MEET THE CREATORS: ANTHONY MATSENA


Meet the Creators is a series of interviews taking a closer look at some of the creative talent involved in the making of GALWAD – from choreographers to writers, Young Company members to world-builders.


In this first interview of the series, we caught up with our Lead Choreographer, Anthony Matsena, to hear about his story and what impact he hopes GALWAD will leave in Wales.

1. Tell us about yourself and why you got into dance.


There isn’t one specific reason why I picked up dance. Dancing was something we did in my family. If I had to pick the biggest reason it would be my older brother. He was a Michael Jackson fanatic, and he was always dancing. So, we were always dancing in the house and started pushing how far we could go at the age of 13 and 14.


My career has progressed as a Choreographer from the moment I graduated. At London Contemporary I was under the assumption I was studying to be a dancer, but times have changed and younger voices in Choreography are being heard, which is great. I’ve been able to pursue a career as a choreographer, which has been a blessing.


I’ve still been able to perform as well, most notably in Tree at the Young Vic by Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah. That was a cool milestone. Another epic moment was to be a Young Associate with Sadler’s Wells. And more recently the work I did with my brother Kel on Shades of Blue for Sadler’s Wells and BBC – and all the work we did in lockdown and seeing that come to flourish.


2. How would you describe your dance style?


I think I use various ideas. My first love for dance was with Krumping, and then Hip Hop and Breakin’. That’s always been a part of my life. Over the years I picked up ballet and contemporary, and that has influenced a lot of my dancing as well as theatre. Me and brother Kel have lots of influences even from the school subjects we studied and the world we live in.


My inspiration for dance is life in general. Dance effects movement and watching people and experiences as human beings. Also, protest and activism finds its way in my work everywhere. It’s also experiences that I see from afar that affects me in some way. Text, imagery, anything that I come across finds its way into the performance.


3. What do you hope to achieve from being involved in GALWAD, and what are you excited about?


I’m hoping to deliver a story that anybody from Wales and anybody worldwide can resonate with and connect with. I hope to bring to light a bright and hopeful future through our storytelling, not only with the physical narrative but through the other elements. I want to make whoever wants to be part of it able to do so, and to connect with different groups across Wales. I also hope to grow as a person and as an artist, because I’m surrounded by a brilliant, brilliant team of creatives.


I’m very excited about the opportunity to choreograph so many bodies. I’m really looking forward to that. But from a wider perspective, I’m really excited to see what ends up happening. It’s one of those projects that seems so incredible but also so daunting and sometimes you can’t even imagine the end point because it’s just so epic.


4. Why do you think GALWAD is different?


GALWAD is different to anything I’ve been a part of – not only because it’s happening over the course of a week, which is just insane, but it’s also how many different forms of media there are to connect with for this project. From radio, TV, live, digital, and so much more – there are so many different ways you can be a part of it. And in many different cities!


It’s crazy to think that one story can bind all of those things together. It’s truly an epic vision of the team that put this together. It doesn’t just rely on one form of art, it relies on so many. So I think it’s special in that way, and I’m really excited to be a part of it.


5. What impact do you hope this project will have in Wales?


The impact I’m hoping it will have is that the story of Wales is the story of the world. I hope that the people of Wales know that what we say and our actions that we apply are going to have an effect in a global sense. And that our country is a place of culture, belonging, diversity, love, purity, and all of those things. It’s a story for the world to look to in times of hope.