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Northern Ballet dancer Matthew Topliss. Photo Justin Slee.

Matthew Topliss

Guest Artist

Matthew was born in Boston, Lincolnshire but has lived in West Yorkshire since a young age. Matthew trained at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance and the Academy of Northern Ballet. He then went to Glasgow to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and graduated with a BA in Modern Ballet in 2012.

Matthew previously worked with Northern Ballet for nine years before joining Phoenix Dance Theatre in 2021. He has also worked with Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera.

During his career he has worked with many different choreographers such as David Nixon CBE, Ashley Page, Jean-Christophe Maillot, Cathy Marston, Lar Lubovitch, Massimo Moricone, Mthuthuzeli November, Jonathan Watkins, Kenneth Tindall, Amaury Lebrun, Drew McOnie, and Daniel de Andrade.

He has returned as a Guest Artist in 2022 to perform in Made in Leeds: Three Short Ballets and The Little Mermaid.

Matthew Topliss and Sarah Chun dancing in Northern Lights.
The Mayor wears a bowler hat to ingratiate himself to the Americans
Lyr, Lord of the Sea, dances impressively through his domain
Herr Liszt tutors Bruno, trying infecting him with Nazi effluent
Matthew Topliss as George dancing with a tyre in his garage in The Great Gatsby. Photo Emma Kauldhar.

Learn more about Matthew...

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Boston, Lincolnshire and then spent most of my early years in West Yorkshire.

At what age did you start dancing?

I began ballet, tap and jazz dance classes when I was seven years old.

Where did you do your dance training?

I began my training with the Academy of Northern Ballet whilst also attending the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds. I then progressed to the Academy of Northern Ballet's Centre for Advanced Training Programme. I graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (in partnership with Scottish Ballet) with a BA in Modern Ballet in 2012.

Previous companies

I toured with Scottish Ballet in Ashley Page's The Sleeping Beauty (winter season 2011/12) whilst in my pre-graduate training, during which I accepted an apprenticeship with Northern Ballet.

Favourite Northern Ballet roles

George Wilson (The Great Gatsby), Renfield (Dracula), Young Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights), Mr Fezziwig (A Christmas Carol), Bottom (A Midsummer Night's Dream), Octavian (Cleopatra), John (Peter Pan), Uncle Drosselmeyer (The Nutcracker), Rev. Brocklehurst (Jane Eyre), the Beast (Beauty & the Beast), and Tybalt (Jean Christophe Maillot's Romeo and Juliet).

Which Northern Ballet role would you most like to dance?

I would love to play the part of Demetrius in A Midsummer Night's Dream and I would also like to play Peter in Peter Pan - I can relate to the boy who never grew up!

Career/training highlights

I was honoured to perform in the closing ceremony at the Commonwealth Games 2010 in Delhi whilst in training. One of my career highlights to date has been performing the role of George Wilson during Northern Ballet's 2016 tour of The Great Gatsby in China.

What do you like most about being a dancer?

I love the rush of adrenaline when performing something new.

How do you like to relax?

I love to play the piano (when I get a chance!).

If you weren't a dancer what would you be?

I like the idea of being a musician and would love to be involved in composing.

Header photo taken by Justin Slee. Other photos taken by Emma Kauldhar and Emily Nuttall.