Matt Flint is the UK’s favourite dancer. He won the second and last series of the BBC’s So You Think You Can Dance programme, wowing millions of viewers and the judges with his Billy Elliot inspired story. This month, Matt will be hosting at the ‘Move It’ event at London Olympia between the 8th and 10th of March, so you had better get your ballet pumps on now if you want to meet him in person.
TGUK: So! Where are you from, Matt?
Matt: I’m from Scarborough in Yorkshire (laughing) but it feels like I’m from London. I’ve lived here more than I lived in Scarborough now. I moved to London when I was 16, I’m 31 now so I’m getting to the halfway point
TGUK: Oh my goodness me! So where did you train?
Matt: I went to a college called Lane Theatre Arts. It’s a theatre college and I went there at 16 getting ready to face the Big Bad World.
TGUK: So what was your first dance job?
Matt: Well whilst at Lanes I dabbled in some things, but my biggest gig when I left was when I went on tour with ‘Disney’s Beauty and the Beast’. For their UK tour. I was a spatula in that.
TGUK: That’s terribly camp! Undoubtedly that’s a defining moment in your career?
Matt: (laughs) Yes! Oh God, some of them you try and forget about. I’ve had more than a few of them in my life, definitely. Well you just find yourself in a costume, you’re like “What am I doing?” I mean I remember once about 8 years ago I was out of work and I was doing a little promotion gig as a banana, I thought what the f**k am I doing (laughing)
Being dressed as a banana was a low point, but luckily a lot of my jobs have been quite high profile. I’ve been lucky
TGUK: Yeah, any major choreographers that you’d like to work with, or any individuals or troops in particular?
Matt: I’ve worked with most of them, actually one who I’ve not worked with Wade Robson, He’s an American, he’s based in L.A and he’s brilliant! I’ve worked a lot with Matthew Born quite a lot; we worked on “The Nutcracker” and a couple of other shows. I toured America, Asia and Australia with him for a year and a half
TGUK: How does it feel to be Britain’s favourite dancer? It’s a bit of a mantle isn’t it?
Matt: It’s a funny feeling actually. I’m gutted that it’s over. But then having the titles to keep forever is kind of cool.
TGUK: Nobody is going to steal your crown! Was it a good experience though
Matt: That process was just phenomenal to be honest as a dancer there’s no other thing in the world where you get challenged, quite as much. The pressure is really on. To be put on that kind of platform, to be tested like that you can’t beat it really. I mean it’s a bit of a phenomenon really when you’ve got these reality TV shows because it’s an instant gauge. You can see what the audience are thinking of you instantly, not only are they voting for you but like if you go onto Twitter or something like that immediately after you can see what they were saying.
TGUK – Did that kind of surprise you, or shock you? Or were you kind of prepared for that?
Matt: Well what I will say, is I did the competition when I was 29. I think if I’d have done it a 19 I’d have handled things very differently. I think I was wise to it to know that if you’re going to be on a reality show and take the good stuff, you’re going to take the bad stuff as well. Because there’s always going to be people sat at home on their computer saying “He was really sh**”.
TGUK: Tell me, there’s a whole host of reality TV shows your doors could be opened to. If you had your pick of them, which one would you like to do next?
Matt: I choreograph for Strictly Come Dancing, and that’s probably the one I’d have picked anyway! I got asked to do Britain’s Got Talent to start submitting troops and stuff. They don’t really appeal to me too much. I don’t think there’s room in the market for them.
TGUK: So you know, obviously there are a lot of gays in dancing. You’re not gay yourself are you?
Matt: No I’m straight. But the dance world has always been very gay. I think it’s changed a little bit in recent years. I mean I think first of all it’s not acceptable really for a young lad. Well it wasn’t anyway a few years ago. Because it’s quite a feminine thing really. Dance is just a massive way of expressing yourself. Gay people love to express themselves (laughing) although if you go into musical theater’s nowadays it’s kind of like 50/50 I reckon
TGUK: Do you think that something like Billy Elliot has kind of helped that because he’s not gay. Do you think something like that kind of paved the way for kind of 12 year old boys to think actually I could do this?
Matt: Yeah I think so. I also think that shows like So You Think You Can Dance help. For example the amount of messages I got when I was on it from young lads saying “You’ve really given me confidence!” says a lot about the industry now.
TGUK: So tell us a little bit about “Move It” and what it entails for you. What are you going to be doing?
Matt: I’ve been involved in move it every year for the last 8 years and this year I’m going to be presenting the main stage. It’s going to be hosting the event basically. I’ve presented the Olympics; I worked on the gymnastics so I’ve had a bit of experience with it
TGUK: How do you find the presenting? Are you comfortable presenting or do you prefer keeping the dance shoes on?
Matt: I find it like harder. The dancing is second nature becomes naturally. I have to work to get a result in presenting, for example, The Olympics, I had to really research everything about the sport and what was going on elsewhere. Whereas I think Move It will be a lot easier because I’m introducing acts, and know about already its installed in me it’s going to be a lot more easier than the Olympics I think
TGUK: There’s some good names on the bill for the Move It. Is there any particular one that you’re really looking forward to kind of getting to know a bit better or watch?
Matt: Yeah Darcy Bussell’s there it’s going to be great for the classic world. I love Move It. For me it’s a fantastic kind of 2 days where everyone comes together. Like 22,000 people come. Like every genre, every age. If you’re a dancer you kind of have to be there.
There you have it! Catch Matt, Kimberley Wyatt and Darcey Bussell at MOVE IT 2013, search google for MOVE IT 2013
The editor and chief of THEGAYUK. All in a previous life wrote and produced songs on multi-platinum records.