Matthew Prescott was a member of the Joffrey Ballet for several years before becoming a freelance artist. Working as a freelancer, Matthew has worked and performed with Donald Byrd’s Spectrum Dance Theater, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, Ballet NY, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Amanda Miller, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, The Alabama Ballet, Armitage Gone! Dance, BalletX, The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Morphoses the Wheeldon Company, and Dance Theatre of Harlem.
Matthew was featured in Robert Altman’s film The Company. Matthew has choreographed works performed by Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Chamber Dance Project, the Joffrey Ballet School, BalletX, Interlochen Arts Academy, for Misty Copeland for Prince’s Coming to America 2010 Madison Square Garden performances, as well as the Vail International Dance Festival.
Matthew was the Resident Choreographer on the national tour of Billy Elliot as well as performing the roll of Older Billy. Matthew made his Broadway debut on Broadway in the cast of Phantom of the Opera.
Matthew Prescott is coming to VDF for the very first time in April, thanks to Joffrey Ballet School.
1. Is this your first trip to Australia? What are you excited about when visiting?
"I was fortunate enough to make my inaugural trip to Australia while I was dancing with Complexions Contemporary Ballet. We performed at the State Theatre in Melbourne to enthusiastic audiences, and then along with some fellow dancers we spent another few days exploring Sydney. This past October I toured Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide for the Joffrey Ballet School audition tour that we held.
One of my favourite things about my job is that I get to travel the world and give dancers opportunities to follow their dreams and passions to be dancers. I am looking forward to being back in Australia and meeting all the dancers who want to spend time with us in the USA in pursuit of their dreams of being professional dancers."
2. Is ballet training something you recommend to every dancer?
"Ballet training is recommended as the foundation of really any dance technique. Ballet gives us the structure through which a dancer is able to identify and connect to the language of physicality. Ballet is clearly defined and requires/builds the mental and physical discipline that is essential to be successful in any style of dance. You don't have to be the world's best ballerina to reap the benefits of a clear understanding of how ballet impacts your understanding of your physicality."
3. You've worked for many different companies as a dancer and choreographer. Where/when have you been most inspired?
"I was fortunate in my performing career to work with a wide range of companies and choreographers. Inspiration came in many forms and from a diverse range of influences. Dancing for the Joffrey Ballet at the onset of my career transformed me from a student into a professional dancer. Working under the direction of the late founder/director of the Joffrey Ballet Gerald Arpino, connected me to the long legacy of one of the most influential companies in the world. Working with Alonzo Kings LINES Ballet was truly a transformative experience that changed the way that approached being a dancer. Working with Suzanne Farrell and her company opened my eyes to genius of George Balanchine. Her words of wisdom continue to influence me and other dancers as I share them with dancers around the world including my favorite phrase of hers that "success is in the effort." Dancing with Christopher Wheeldon's Morphoses was a highlight in my career as I was able to perform with some of the most astounding dancers at that time that challenged me to be my best including Danielle Rowe, Wendy Whelan, Andrew Crawford, and Misty Copeland.
Mine was a performing career that I could never have imagined growing up on a beef cattle ranch in the mountains of Idaho. I was not set in one company, but was able to have many different and unique experiences that gave me a fuller understanding of the dance world and how I fit into it. I am forever grateful for all the opportunities that were afforded me and take all the information and knowledge I learned from each experience with me as a teacher/director."
4. How did you find your break on Broadway?
"Broadway and musical theatre were always something that I was interested in being a part of one day. I auditioned for the musical Billy Elliot, but was cut after making it to the final cuts. A little over a year later I was contacted out of the blue to audition for the role of Resident Choreographer for the national tour. It was a whirlwind experience, and after talking to Peter Darling I was offered the job. It was my responsibility along with the other members of the creative team to safeguard the integrity of the show. It was the most challenging experience of my career as I was in charge of training the boys who played Billy and also maintain each of their shows at the level the Tony award winning show demanded. I was also the emergency cover for Older Billy, and had to perform that role a handful of times. Soon after I left that show I auditioned and got a job in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. This was a dream to be a part of this iconic show, and will forever be a highlight in my career."
5. What qualities do you value in an artist?
"There are many qualities that it takes to be successful as a dancer/performer. I am always looking for dancers that have a combination of technical and artistic excellence. I am looking for dancers that give value and purpose for every step that they are taking. Mr. Arpino used to tell us " it's not about the steps" and I could not agree more. Steps are really just that at the end of the day unless we as the performer add value to the steps. I am looking for the hardest worker in the room. Complacency and lack of drive is the antithesis of growth. I am looking for dancers who are fearless, hardworking, and dedicated to being the best dancer that they can be every day."
6. If you can give young dancers one piece of advice for a dance career, what would it be?
"Anything is possible with enough hard work and dedication. This is your career and it is up to you to make of it what you want. Nobody is going to make it happen for you, but you. You are the only you, and that is valuable. You have nothing to prove, and only to share."
7. Last year we had some delighted dancers at VDF chosen as scholarship recipients for JBS. Will you be giving out more to some lucky VDF dancers this year?
"For sure we will be awarding scholarships! We will offer full scholarships to our year round trainee programs in New York, to our three week summer programs, and also to a new Joffrey Australia Summer Intensive that we are planning."
What an opportunity! To be eligible for a Joffrey Ballet School scholarship, just make sure to take Matthew's classes at VDF.
Check out the awesome new series on Joffrey Ballet School on YouTube featuring Matthew. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdheoI6Anug&t=1s