Dansportalen

Artiklar från 2008 – till idag

Artiklar från 2008 – till idag

Mattheus Bäckström 1

Mattheus Bäckström 3rd Year photoshoot. Photo 2019 The Royal Ballet School by ASH

24 jan
2020

In the school your main focus is on the training. In the company your focus is on what you are doing on stage.

LONDON: Mattheus Bäckström started his ballet training at the Swedish National Ballet School in Gothenburg in 2011. Now on the brink of launching his professional career, he talks to Dansportalen about life at The Royal Ballet School.

Mattheus Bäckström 2

Thomas Lund and Mattheus Bäckström in class. Photo 2018 The Royal Ballet School by Rachel Cherry

‘I’d done all my ballet training in Gothenburg and moving to London was my first time living away from thefamily. I hadn’t really thought much about leaving home, but I knew I had to pursue my dream and as soon as I arrived, everything fell into place.’

In 2003 The Royal Ballet Upper School moved to Floral Street, Covent Garden. With long hours in the school and at the Opera House, many students live nearby. Covent Garden is packed with theatres, restaurants and high-end boutiques and is one of London’s most desirable areas to live and work.

Mattheus said, ‘It’s a great place to live. You’ll never be bored here.’ At the Upper School Mattheus met up with top ballet students from around the world but he is obviously someone who thrives in a tough work atmosphere. He was full of admiration for his fellow students and his teachers.

Mattheus Bäckström 7

Mattheus Bäckström in class at The Royal Ballet School. Photo 2018 The Royal Ballet School by Rachel Cherry

‘As soon as I walked into my class on that first day at school, I was instantly more motivated. I think that the fact that there are so many great dancers at the school, just motivates everyone and makes the atmosphere even better. We are all very supportive of each other. If someone gets a role or if someone does something really good, we are all very happy for that person. It’s a great feeling and really motivating to be in a class where everyone strives to be their best and loves the same thing that you do.’

Mattheus’s teacher in his final year at the school, is Ricardo Cervera who was a first soloist and also ballet master at The Royal Ballet. Ricardo is now teaching at the school where he is able to pass on the experience of many years dancing major classical roles.

Mattheus rated him ‘an amazing teacher. I have learnt so much from him just in these few months since I have been in third year. He’s a great, great teacher.’

Mattheus Bäckström 8

Mattheus Bäckström 3rd Year photoshoot. Photo 2019 The Royal Ballet School by ASH

Mattheus was also full of praise for the health care team, ‘the physio staff at the school is just amazing. The way they deal with the student injuries is of a very high standard.’

But life at The Royal Ballet School is not all classwork. Over the Christmas period Mattheus headed to Birmingham where the sister company, Birmingham Royal Ballet, is based. He worked on a very busy schedule performing 35 shows in Sir Peter Wright’s, The Nutcracker.

‘Performing with Birmingham Royal Ballet is a great experience, it gives us students a sense of how it is in a real company.When you are performing next to company members you start to work in a different way. For example, the way you prepare yourself in ballet class changes. In the school your main focus is on the training. In the company your focus is on what you are doing on stage.’

His roles in the ballet have included Cadets, Manservant and Rats as well as learning the Trepak as an understudy in case of injury. ‘Dancing next to the company members has been a great experience. I enjoyed the fun atmosphere on stage, you could really tell that the audience could feel it too, as they clapped and yelled ‘Bravo’ after all the dancing parts. No matter what roles I did, I learnt to enjoy them in their own way, it’s about getting the experience and appreciating what you’re doing in the moment.’

Mattheus Bäckström 5

Mattheus Bäckström 3rd Year photoshoot. Photo 2019 The Royal Ballet School by ASH

‘Whereas in school you expect lots of corrections and feedback, here you’re taking your own responsibility. I really enjoy working independently and making sure I’m doing everything to the best of my potential. We get good mentoring but it’s more up to you – you need to be self-aware. Working here has opened up a new perspective for me. I’m more focused on preparing myself for the actual performance, which is the most important thing.

Birmingham Royal Ballet have the reputation of being a very friendly company and Mattheus found that even the principal dancers were easy to talk to. ‘They are so nice and really helpful. They would give me advice after class on how I could improve my technique which I appreciated a lot. The company is brilliant, great facility, great dancers and all of them are very humble and so friendly.’

Mattheus Bäckström 6

Mattheus Bäckström 3rd Year photoshoot. Photo 2019 The Royal Ballet School by ASH

A short break between performing in Birmingham and performing in London at the Royal Albert Hall gave Mattheus a well-earned break to be with his family at Christmas.

‘I hadn’t been home since I started my third year. So, I was very excited to be going home and seeing my family and especially my dog. I have never experienced home sickness, but I do miss them a lot. There is something about the Swedish Christmas that I will always cherish.’

As a third-year student Mattheus also gets the opportunity to work with The Royal Ballet. He recently worked in MacMillan’s Manon and in 2019 he went on tour with the company to Japan.The Royal Ballet has a huge fan base in Tokyo and Mattheus got his first taste of stardom.

‘On tour, I was a Gypsy in the ballet Don Quixote. When we left the theatre after the show, there were crowds of people waiting by the stage door. It was really surprising, I hadn’t seen anything like it before. I was asked to sign my autograph and people wanted to take photos with me. I hadn’t expected that, but it was fun.’

Mattheus is getting used to travel. ‘Because I moved to London when I was sixteen and I travel back to Sweden to see my family, I’ve had to adapt. Travelling has never been a problem and you find a way of liking it. I always bring a book, I think there is something peaceful about it. Being in the air without any internet connection, it allows me to collect my thoughts and take a break from everything that is going on down there.’

The future looks positive for Mattheus. ‘I know I want to stay in Europe and join a classical company. My dream has always been to become a professional ballet dancer, so I am very excited about being so close to reaching that big goal’.

Maggie Foyer
24 Jan 2020

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