Skip to main content
Northern Ballet dancer Matthew Koon. Photo Justin Slee.

Matthew Koon


Former First Soloist

Matthew is from Manchester. He trained as an Associate of the Academy of Northern Ballet and at Caroline Wright's Centre Pointe Dance School before taking up full-time vocational training with English National Ballet School. In 2006 he performed on the West End as Billy in Billy Elliot and was a finalist in the first season of Sky's Got to Dance in 2010. He joined Northern Ballet in 2013 and left in December 2021.

Learn more about Matthew

Where were you born and raised?

I was born and raised in Manchester.

At what age did you start dancing?

I started dancing at the age of two, following my sister's footsteps!

Where did you train?

I trained as an Associate of the Academy of Northern Ballet and at Caroline Wright's Centre Pointe Dance School before taking up full-time vocational training at English National Ballet School.

Dancer leaps holding light in his hands.
Matthew Koon and Ayami Miyata rehearsing their roles in Cinderella. Photo Riku Ito
Merlin dressed for the royal court leaps on instruction
Arthur dances with Lucy, unaware of her being under Dracula's spell
A Musician jumps with his straight legs pointed in opposite directions while holding an instrument's bow
Bruno listlessly sits on his tyre swing
Matthew Koon leaps impressively in The Little Mermaid
Northern Ballet dancer Matthew Koon as the young Prince leaping through the air as he entertains at the grand picnic. Photo Emma Kauldhar.
Merlin grand jetes across the stage

Awards, nominations and prizes

  • Fonteyn Nureyev Young Dancers Competition - Winner 2008
  • Janet Cram Awards - Outstanding Dance Award 2008
  • Marjorie Davies Tap Awards - Senior Class Prize 2009
  • International Ballet Championship - Winner 2009
  • Dance Master UK - Winner 2010
  • Nominated for 'Newcomer of the Year', Tanz Magazine Yearbook 2013

What are your favourite Northern Ballet roles to dance?

Romeo and Mercutio (Romeo and Juliet), Edgar (Wuthering Heights), Cavalier (The Nutcracker), Peter (Peter Pan) and Wilson (The Great Gatsby).

Career highlights

  • Being the sixth Billy to debut in the West End musical Billy Elliot and the first non-Caucasian actor to play the role
  • Filming an underwater music video at Pinewood Studios for Rakafeed's ethereal track Colder
  • Dancing the male duet from Lar Lubovitch's Concerto Six Twenty-Two at Northern Ballet's debut at the Royal Opera House's Linbury Theatre
  • Dancing the role of Mercutio in Jean-Christophe Maillot's UK Première of Romeo and Juliet at Edinburgh Festival Theatre, and then the role of Romeo, a dream role of mine, when the ballet returned the following season
  • Having the opportunity to dance the first movement lead couple in Kenneth MacMillan's Concerto for our home audiences in Leeds and also the pas de quatre in Gloria on the Royal Opera House main stage for the festival marking the 25th anniversary of MacMillan's death

What do you like most about being a dancer?

The incredible opportunity and responsibility that we have as artists to transport an audience to another world for three hours as they watch one of our performances. Being able to use dance as a tool to tell stories and connect with people is such a unique position to be in and one that has the potential to open minds and invoke limitless positive change.

If you could adapt one work into a ballet what would it be?

Mulan the ballet!

What is your favourite book?

It's hard to choose but Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell was one of the most engrossing reading experiences I've ever had. The film was great too!

How do you like to relax?

I love popping back to Manchester whenever I get the chance to spend time with family, going for long drives and weekends away with my boyfriend, and spending lazy evenings at home reading a good fiction book or binge watching Netflix.

Matthew is sponsored by Neil Eckersley.

Header photo taken by Justin Slee. Other photos taken by Emma Kauldhar, Guy Farrow and Riku Ito.