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SPOTLIGHT ON: Matthew Lawrence, Inspiring the Aspiring

By Abigail Gatling/ Dance
“Often young male dancers are – as I was – the lone boy in class”

It was this experience that led Matthew Lawrence, Associate Lecturer for QUT Dance, towards Project B an initiative run by the Royal Academy of Dance that aims to widen access to dance for boys and to encourage them to take up ballet.

Prior to teaching classical dance at QUT Creative Industries, Matthew was involved with the Australian Ballet, Queensland Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet, both as a dancer and as a choreographer. He writes for Dance Australia and has been featured in countless other articles.

He has now been chosen as the Australian Ambassador for the Project B program.

Matthew performing with Birmingham Royal Ballet. Photo by Bill Cooper.

Of his own childhood, Matthew states that he didn’t publicise the fact that he did ballet for fear of being perceived as “different”. However, he notes, he was “lucky” to grow up in a supportive environment at home where his father mentored him with his dance.

Negative stereotypes and a lack of familial and community support causes the number of males entering ballet to remain low.

Matthew now works hard to de-stigmatise ballet for boys who may not have been so lucky. He acknowledges that Project B is a great platform to continue this work.

The project brings together like-minded young dancers from around Australia, so they will no longer be the “lone boy in class” as Matthew experienced.

“There is power in numbers”

It also helps normalise the pursuit and how that there are others out there. Being around other aspiring dancers gives boys “the opportunity to… be inspired, compete and be mentored by their peers and teachers”, says Matthew.

Through his lecturing at QUT and his involvement in Project B, he hopes that he can exposed more men to dance, and inspire more men to become involved in ballet.

“Ballet is the ultimate artistic and athletic pursuit, it would be a shame for men to miss out!”

His ultimate goal is to help society become more educated and appreciative society about the art.

Matthew advises “Immerse yourself in a positive support structure. If this cannot be found at home, then find like-minded friends.” Supports can be found in programs like Project B, peer groups and associations, and staff at university.

Like Matthew, QUT’s lecturers are selected for their real world experience and often, while teaching at the university, are still active and practicing within the industry. This supports the authenticity of teaching and with building the aspiration of students.

QUT’s dance programs offer a supportive and inclusive environment, and includes specialised male coaching classes. It is taught by internationally recognised dance specialists, like Matthew, who have experience in a range of dance practices.

QUT’s graduates often achieve outstanding recognition as performers and choreographers throughout their careers.

“By creating these opportunities for boys to mix with other boys and male figures in dance, they will hopefully not feel so alone, but inspired to further pursue their passion for dance.”

Matthew performing with the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Photo by Bill Cooper.

Find out about how you can study QUT’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance) and (Dance Performance).

Discover how you can build your support network and get involved in Project B.

Read more about Matthew’s appointment to Project B Australian Ambassador.