Matthew standing head and shoulders above dancers!

Northern Ballet dancer Matthew Koon on Matthew Topliss's shoulders in Cinderella
Northern Ballet dancer Matthew Koon on Matthew Topliss's shoulders in Cinderella

Cinderella is off to the ball in Sheffield next week in a spectacular new show from Northern Ballet – but for some of the dancers a trip to the circus was in order.

The show includes a scene where acrobats are performing and the dancers learned their skills from the experts at Greentop Cirus in Holywell Road, Sheffield.

One of the dancers, Matthew Koon, said: “I’m one of two acrobats in Cinderella. We make our appearance in the Christmas winter market, where there are a lot of things going on.

“We are almost like street performers, tumbling around the stage. The scene also has a bear and there are stilt walkers and jugglers.”

Matthew said that expert tutors from Greentop Circus visited the Northern Ballet dance studio in Leeds to run sessions in circus skills.

“We started off on basic acrobatics and, being dancers, we are quite able to pick up basic techniques quite quickly.

“A few of us had a past in gymnastics.

“They taught us how to stand on each other’s shoulders and make big pyramids.”

Matthew said that lots of dancers get into ballet through gymnastics in the first place.

The Manchester-born dancer, whose parents are from Hong Kong, came to national attention when he got through to the live final of the Sky One show Got to Dance four years ago.

After training at the English National Ballet School, he made his professional stage debut at the age of 12, playing the title role in the West End production of Billy Elliot the Musical.

He said that once they had learned the circus skills from the Greentop team, it was time to decide how to incorporate them into the ballet.

“In the end our artistic director David Nixon came and watched what we’d learned in the week. He chose what he liked and put that into the choreography.

“I’m the guy who stands on the other guy’s shoulders. Being a boy, I’m not used to being lifted!

“You just have to trust each other. If you panic or the guy underneath panics, then you fall. We do know a safe way of falling, though.”

He added: “I think the scariest thing to do is to stand on his shoulders and we also do two-man cartwheels.”

This version of the classic fairy tale is set in Imperial Russia at a time when superstitious people believe in the possibility of magic.

Cinderella’s life is turned upside down following the death of her father.

Cinderella finds solace on the frozen lake where she first sees her Prince Charming.

Subject to the coldness and cruelty of her stepmother, and kept as a servant by her family, Cinderella’s life is transformed once again following a magical encounter in a market place.

As romance blossoms, can Prince Charming see beyond the servant girl and fall in love with the real Cinderella?

The show has a new score written by Philip Feeney and played live by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia.

Duncan Hayler’s fantastical Russian-inspired set designs really set the scene.

Cinderella visits the Lyceum Theatre from next Tuesday to Saturday.

Box office: at the Crucible, call 0114 249 6000 or go online at Sheffield Theatres