Q&A with Centre for Advanced Training student Matthew Rawcliffe


The Lowry Centre for Advanced Training Scheme is a part time, pre-vocational course, providing access to high quality training and nurturing in dance to young people 12-16 who have a passion for the art form and who wish to progress toward full time training.

As well as training, they also get the chance to show all their hard work at an end of year performance, and this year the students have been working with the incredible Akram Khan Company. One of our students, Matthew Rawcliffe, recently told us all about his journey with CAT.

Introduce yourself, how old were you when you joined CAT and tell us about your past dance experiences before you joined CAT?

My name is Matthew Rawcliffe, I was in year 11 when I joined CAT so 15 years old and I had a few years of dance experience mostly in jazz for musical theatre.


Why did you join CAT?

I really enjoyed movement I had done before -especially kind of physical theatre work, and I think someone suggested to me that contemporary dance might be something I would find appealing. When I looked into CAT the training they offered of a kind of holistic approach to technique, diet and creativity made a career in dance seem viable if I did end up wanting to pursue it.


During your time with the CAT, what have been your highlights?

My main highlight was getting involved with The Lowry’s commission for Selfridges which was a short film celebrating local dance artists and some of my choreography was used for the film which was then displayed in Selfridges which was amazing. Also the performance we did opening U Dance last year in the main theatre was terrifying but great!


So, you must be in your last year of the CAT Scheme? What are your plans for the future and are you excited/looking forward to it?

In September I’ll be moving to London to start training at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. It’s really exciting that I have another three years to grow and learn as well as just being a student in London which I’m hoping will be a great experience.


Have you worked with any Professional Dance Companies/Dance artists during your time here at CAT?

Yes – each of my three years has been guided by artists from a proffesional company resulting in an end of year performance. In my first year this was Wayne McGregor Random Dance, then Phoenix Dance Theatre and this year we’re working with Akram Khan Company.


Oh, Akram Khan Company,  Tell us about the project?

We’ve been working in short intensive periods since the start of the year with Kristina and Sarah from AKC; they’ve shared the delicate intricacies of Kathak dance and given us tools to be creative within the contexts of our own training. It’s very heavily choreographed so we’ve spent a lot of time trying to refine movement so every position of the hand or articulation of the spine is exact but there’s also little snippets for us to express our individualities.


And the performance this weekend? Tell us all about it…without giving any details away? Are you excited?

The performance (in my mind anyway) is kind of a continuation of or prologue to the AKC performance at the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony – which looked at the idea of mortality. As it’s title suggests ‘The Birth of Destruction’ reflects on the same dialects between the sacred beauty of life and it’s delicacy against destructive force; through rehearsals this was inspired by imagery and stories of ancient Hindu deities. At the very end of the piece we learned movement heavily drawn from the Olympic performance which we all dance together – it feels really uplifting and I’m really excited to do it in front of an audience.


Throughout your process of the project and working with Akram Khan, what have been your highlights?

I love watching the sections I’m not in – there’s a beautiful section danced by the older female dancers and I’m just mesmerised every time I watch it.


You mentioned you were coming to the end of your final year, what are you going to miss about the CAT?

Lots- probably the tutors, my friends, the studios and the musicians.


The end of year CAT performance ‘Birth Of Destruction’ takes place in our Quays Theatre 16 & 17 July. Tickets available here.