My Dance Hero: Matthew Broadbent on Wayne Sleep

My Dance Hero

Matthew Broadbent and Madeline Squire

Scottish Ballet artist on the famed English dancer

In this third installment in our My Dance Hero series with Scottish Ballet dancers, we spoke to Dutch born artist Matthew Broadbent, who shared his appreciation for English dancer Wayne Sleep. Broadbent trained at The Royal Ballet School and was later with Northern Ballet from 2010–15 before he joining Scottish Ballet in summer 2015.

For more, read Constance Devernay on Monique Loudières, and Grace Horler on Zenaida Yanowsky.

Who is your dance hero?
My dance hero growing up, and to this day, is Wayne Sleep OBE.

When did you first discover him?
My parents took me to his one man show when I was very young and hadn't even properly started ballet yet, and I was absolutely amazed. Wayne Sleep is one of those rarest of things: a male ballet star that transcended the ballet world to become famous with people who don't know anything about ballet. It was very important for me to know that there were male ballet stars out there that I could look up to.

What is it about Wayne's work that appeals to you?
He had a great vitality to his work and a great versatility. His pirouettes were excitingly quick; I remember watching him as a young boy and thinking he jumped for days. Yet more than that he was a showman, he knew how to perform, where his strengths lay and how to show them off. He revealed a ballet that was exciting and unexpected.

Maybe there were people out there with better technique, and cleaner lines but he gave off a raw energy that as a young boy I really loved seeing. It showed off the athleticism of ballet at a time when I had only just discovered the art form and I was grappling with its rigid rules.

In what way has Wayne influenced the dancer you have become?
His story was also inspiring. Famously short, he never let his non-perfect ballet body get in the way of making a successful career. His determination to keep going and his ability to focus on his strengths and not worry about everything else is a great lesson for anyone, and one that I have to remind myself sometimes.

He also realised that entertaining and audience is the most important thing, that sometimes we shouldn't worry so much and just enjoy the performances. Not everything was handed to Wayne on a plate; he worked hard and was successful because of that and his ability to know how to shape his dancing to suit him. He ignited my own love of pirouettes (just to the right, if we are being honest, I hate the left) and showed me from a young age that ballet is exciting, athletic and that men can do it too!

Scottish Ballet: Stravinsky

Two contrasting works set to the music of Stravinsky: The Fairy's Kiss by Kenneth MacMillan and Christopher Hampson's The Rite of Spring.