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Canadian dancer Matthew Golding is a Principal of The Royal Ballet.

Afisha crew had a chance to interview this remarkable personality and to get to know all about his idols and forces that drive people to strive for a career on the big scene


Could you please tell the readers how your journey began? How did you decide to go into ballet?

Basically, I have lost my left kidney at the age of 7 years old and, the doctors have told me  that I wasn't allowed to play hockey (which is what all the Canadian boys do). So, I was put in the sphere of gymnastics and all kind of acting, including drama theatre. I have initially went to a dance recidal and I saw dancers dancing on the stage. My first impresision inspired me to want to become a male dancer because I enjoy the idea of performing accompanied by music, along with all this excitement on stage. Therefore, my real journey of danse took off when i have  joined a russian balley school  in Washington DC, directed by Oleg Vinogradov and his wife Elena Vinogardova. From there and on, I have started to build my career from the age of 14. It was concerned to be a little late, but to be honest it was good for me since I was always dancing either jazz or hip hop. This was probably the direction i wanted to follow before I got into ballet. I wanted to go to the industry of musical theatre and bea back up dancer for people like Madonna or Justin Timberlake. However, a really good friend of mine have advised that, if I have trained with the russian technique then, I could have the potential of becoming a strong male dancer.I knew that I had to do the best I could do for myself and from a young age I knew that in finding your talent is the road to happiness and success. So, when I have fell into the russian ballet school (Kirov Academy of Ballet) I have trained there for 2 years. After these 2 years, I had the idea that if I could go to a competition anywhere, then that would have helped me to get to a next stage of my career. I have proceeded to the Prix de Lausanne competition in Switzerland. There, I have choreographed my own piece and I have performed and wonit at the age of 16 years old. I have also performed in another competition in New York called ‚ Youth Americas Grand Prix  and I have won it aswell.This fact, highlights the priviledge of me training in the Russian School DC in order to be able to win these 2 competitions. It allowed me to advance my career, which then took me on to the companies where I perform at now. My work is now based in Holland and in London. Basically I can sum it all up and say that my career was not accidental. It was every moment of making the best out of a situation that really was not the most pleasant for a young child and a family.


What does a dance mean to you? Is it just a collection of beautiful movements or an opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings?

Dance for me is a chance to express myself in many ways. So, now that I have been doing it since a very young age, it became a part of me. It is indeed something that is still developing and growing, depending on which ballet I perform. Strong ballet dance roles like Romeo or Onegin, with the all their depth of character through the story linked with the choreography are the pices where I find myself being a 'deeper' person with a different way of thinking.Dance is a connection between the artist the choreogracher and having a chance to dance to wonderful chords of music. Most ballets are able to touch the depth of pain and suffering with the idea that the love is always present. So, I think that dance is a link between the artist and his/her soul which is combining with music and the story of ballet. 


On stage everything looks flawless, however, what difficulties (if any) are you facing behind the scenes?

A variaty of dancers find a way to execute this. In my personal opinion, you cannot rehearse all over again and do everything exactly as it was planned out. This is just not the way it goes. Life does not go on like that and performing on stage does not go on like that.The most important thing that you need to know is that you have the flexibility to say: "I am not perfect, and I am adjusting to it." This is the ability to just let it go, and just let it be. For me, performing classical on stage is the sensation of rythm. That is what it takes years to get. You are containing a link through this rythm and the performing dance. Once you adjust tothe rythm, your breath and everything that you have worked on, you can let go. This is what makes it effortless, and extremely enjoyable to watch and to perform. 



In Russia, there's a saying that a ballet training is even more difficult that that of the army and that ballet dancers are stripped from healthy childhood and living their lives to the fullest. Could you please uncover the veil on as to how the situation in Canada and in the UK is? Is it really that ruthless, is everyone truly jealous of you and is trying to outshine you with whatever means possible (placing razor blades in you ballet shoes, for instance)? Have you ever had a similar experiences?

I would say basically the idea of the training as a class is a pure, religious determination meaning that you are constantly training again and again. It is the sense where you have to believe, even if anybody is going to try to bring you down or get in your way.When I was in school, the director told me  that I should not go to the ballet competition in Switzerland. Shehas told that to me because in her opinion I was not good enough. Eventually, when I have went and actually won the competion, I was told that I was very good and that they are all,as a school extremely proud of me. So, somehow this feeling of everybody against you or people telling you that you are not good enough, makes you push your limits. That is something where the training of classical danse does help.As young kids we were training in America but through a russian school, so, I was lucky to have the appropriate discipline. Otherwise, I think I wouldn't have learned this from a young age in school,  then, probably I would not have learned it at all.That is why the balley training for each dancer starts from such a young age. That is why it is so demanding and tough. When I went to the Royal Balley school in London,we have done a lot of training along with a lot of examinations. Therefore,I have felt that the main difference of these two schools( English and Russian) was how the teachers have treated the kids. The Royal Ballet school is a little bit more encouraging in the fact that everyone is very different and everyone has their different obsticles. So, the teachers there are very good at adjusting with each artist. I feel that classical balley is now being lost since a lot of the top teachers and coaches for schools are difficult to find. The new generation is changing and this leads to the fact that the teachers are not that strict during trainings as the teachers that guided us previously. I think that that the most rewarding thing, about going through all the stress and all the pressure from being in ballet schools from a young age is the passion of being to dance classical and contemporary pieces.

To be honest, there is not so much difference between Canada, America, the UK or even the European ballet companies where I have hadthe priviledge of dancing. The difference from national ballet of Canada (where I have performed theSwan Lake) the Royal Balley in London, and working with the Russian companies is just that there is a new reason why you learn your choreographiness and a reason for you to travel and for you to meet your ballerina and put together a show. As a frequent guest-artist, I have had the chance to see many different companies and maybe that is why it makes me say that it is an universal world. Universal and very connected, especially nowwhen everybody stays in touch through the social media and the cinematic filmings.This way, there are is a chance for everyone to see what is happening at the other side of the world and to watch how the dancers are more or less the same from wherever they come from. They are all extremely intellegent, disciplined and overall, all they want, is to do their job to the fullest. I do believe that some of the companies are in a slightly different position than the others( whether it is finances or the cases of choreography) but, I think that the history of ballet is strong whithin a lot of companies. I want to mention one place that stands out for me personaly. I have always admired  the Paris Opera. In how they all have always continued to be based in Paris and as being a ‚hiting’ company, they are very well known. However, I always have to travel to Paris to see what they are doing, to see the new choreographies and get an idea of whats happening on the opera stage in Paris.

What concerns my thoughts about Bolshoi,is that I think that am very lucky to see them perform in many different places from a young age. They are a very hard working and a highly respected company. They remain in a great position now having somuch success which they did gain during the summer in London.So, I have been  very fortunate to be a guest and perform in many areas of the world but I would say that Russia actually allowed me to perform the most and gave me the most opportunities to get on stage and perform the classics and perform with many wonderful ballerinas. They have allowed me to really advance my career experience and to gain the knowledge to understand that I was in the right direction with performing classical ballets.

I think the best thing about traveling and performing in many theatres is meaning through so much talent and seeing so many talents that are discovered and in the meantime so many that are not discovered yet. It is mostly very monotenus in the sense that it is always being performed. So, it is like the images that keep being seen through the eyes of the public and I think that allows us to understand that what we see is acceptable while what is not seen seems to be unreachable. For me to find the element of surprise and the element of the thinking outside the box is if I was trying to create a new show or a new production that would interest me more even if it has already been done before. Whether I will put together a production now or in the future, I dont think that there is a time limit and I believe that there is no routine. There is no technical side to these things, because they tend to develop as they are being put together. Therefore, I do believe that there is always a moment when everything alines as if being the correct stars and that is the best you can get at the end of it all. The rest of it is more or less just preparations while being honest with yourself and doing it for the right reasons and with the correct intentions.





Is there a difference between the ballet atmosphere in the US and Canada?


I think the question about the different atmospheres between the US and Canada is a very universal topic. The difference of the atmosphere can be felt in in culture, in theatre and in the society. Now we can see that they are based upon a political situation. Americans wanted to come over to Canada and crash the Canadian immigration site which is quite funny and in the meantime very sad. In general, as a dancer I have witnessed the fact that the Americans and Canadians  are a part of the West Coast, so our mentality is quite open, relaxed and proud. We are always extremely proud to be Canadians, since as big sports fans, coming from an English set backround, we have colonised from England and my family came over to Canada. That allowed me to reach my dreams of starting a dansers career, and furthermore becoming a principal dancer at the Royal Ballet. I am proud to be a Canadian citizen and to have a common wealth as a canadian, which allows me to be a part of the Royal Ballet and to travel as a with the canadian passport (which is concerned easier than with other American citizenship ) in the sense of my work permits in the UK and in Holland.



We realise that becoming a Principal of The Royal Ballet was far from being a walk in a park. What factors played the most crucial role in you success:your talent or hard-work?


Becoming a Principal dancer  within a company is quite an accomplishment in regard of my journey to becoming a Principal of The Royal Ballet. Personaly, I would give a lot of my credit to my mother and the dadication she gave me. She has guided me and pushed me to follow my dream. I have traveled to many Ballet schools to find a place that would allow me to receive a scholarship and to take me to the Protolesone competition in Switzerland. She was always there by my side. Dedicating a lot of it to my family, my mother and also my teachers of the every school where i have studied. I always had a teacher who seen my talent and tried to get something out of me whether it was through bright, positive or negative emotions. This allowed me to grow and to develop, to being a principal dancer. As I grew further into my career, my dance partners in different companies allowed me to develop as a male partner for these ballerinas. I was very lucky enough to always partner the best ballerinas that made me look as a strong principle dancer. So overall, it can be called a walk in the park because I enjoy and love what I do. When I look back, I just tend to think that there are so many different puzzle pieces that were put together to reach in the Royal Balley and become who I am today. Ofcourse it is not only done by yourself, it also has to do with a lot of great people and people that just saw my talent and allowed me to develop in the time it took.





Unfortunately, being a ballet performer is not a life-long job... What would you like to do after you retire from performing? Or would you like to stay in the artistic industry for the rest of your life?


I am pretty much happy with the fact that ballet is not for ever. Actually barely anything is forever.However, in our case, there is a time limit especially for ourmale dancers , since it seems like no one wants to be we wearing boy tights running around in circles as a prince after their later 30 s. I am lucky to have a family that works in different proffesion industries. I have never seen myself just as a classical principal danser and I would always be interested inseeing my own shows and festivals that I have been doing recently. I have been putting together other productions that are related to the arts. I do enjoy seeing other talents and I will be making sure they get exploisure. So, I hope that I will be connecting my further life path with the theatre and the performing lifestyle. Personaly, I really enjoy the travelling and I enjoy making people happy, especially the audience members. Inconnecting with the schools, I do see many positive elements in the fact that this career does not last forever. I guessit just makes you put the most amount of your energy into living in the present and to be living during this particular moment on stage.




What inspires you to create a new dance? Or ballet, in your perception, is solely a technical routine, that requires deep thinking and constant revision of every movement?


The clear understanding that the movements of all the dance and all the contemporary work or for any kind of movement is something that you do train at, but also it is something that you must feel and do with the correct intentions. Now, as you get older, through your career path,you have different kind of reasons why you do these movements and what message are your trying topass through your performance. I can see that the way that I train now has changed a lot(comparing to the previous syllabus) and within the saying that this is what changes the dancer and makes you become an artist that has the 'depth' and can perform the story ballets. Unfortunately, not every dancer is able to perform the story ballets and not every male dancer or a ballerina can perform certain contempopary work. It is a thing that now is a part of our requirements(in the main companies) all around the world. Personaly, I have always been more of a classical scent and I am very much looking forward for the next few years, where I will possibly be branching out in a contempopary, more infusive way of moving. This will allow me to find a different dimension of my dance and of the ways I can move. It is to create the feeling as if it your first time, to dance as it is your first time or to feel as if its your first time.. Everything needs to have this fresh and natural sense of what makes us move. I think, thatthis is the best way if you are going to create a new dance a new balley a new action  or even a new life for yourself.




What do you believe to be the highlight of your life and your career? Would you like to share it with the readers?


A highlight of my life have been to see a new child being born, and being around my family and seeing how everything is changing and linking with the new birth. Another highlight for me was being promoted to Principal with my company in Amstardam(Deutch national balley). The director presented my Principal title with my family being around, the people who have seen me from the beginning. A highlight for me in