If you’ve already been to see Matilda the Musical, you’ll no doubt, much like film critics all over the world, be in awe of the incredible dance scenes that light up the movie.
If you haven’t seen it, you should, if only to marvel at the work of Colchester choreographer, Ellen Kane, who was the mastermind behind those magical moves.
Born in Hackney, East London, Ellen moved to Colchester because of her partner’s work a few years ago.
In recent years her credits have included Legally Blonde for Regent’s Park Theatre, A Chorus Line and West Side Story at the Curve in Leicester and Groundhog Day at the Old Vic and on Broadway, but it’s her latest work, this time on the big screen, that is really getting the offers flooding in.
“I’ve had a few,” she smiles as we chat in her kitchen in between meetings.
“But throughout my career, and even before that, I’ve always made decisions based on my gut feeling and whether I think it’s going to be an interesting and fun project to do.”
And because of the huge plaudits she’s received for Matilda the Musical, Ellen can afford to be particular about what she does next.
Not that she hasn’t always been.
“I started dancing because one my theatre friends went to this dance club after school.
“It was proper Billy Elliot stuff in a library just across from where we lived, run by this amazing woman who charged 50p a session. I wasn’t really interested, I just went along for a taster but in the end I started making up the dances.”
When secondary school hit, dancing took a bit of a back seat.
“I did take it for GCSE,” she admits, “but only because I thought it might be a bit of an easy option.
“The real turning point was when a performing college came to my school. I was all lined-up to go to East London to do sociology, psychology and English but I changed my mind and signed-up for a Foundation Course in dance.
“My father was furious and told me if I was going to do the course, I needed to do some A Levels in the evening, so I did.”
Ellen didn’t stop there. With a choice between a dance school that was subsidised by the Government and another that wasn’t, she chose the latter but fortunately got a scholarship to study there.
And then when musical theatre was where all the jobs were, Ellen decided to audition for a contemporary dance company.
Ellen adds: “It was for Richard Alston, one of the most important contemporary dance makers in this country, and it led to tours all over the country and Europe as well as several productions at Sadler’s Wells.
“It was everything I’d ever wanted, incredibly hard but I just felt so fortunate.”
But just when, everything, was going great, Ellen’s career took a sudden turn.
“It was really stupid,” she tells me, “I slipped a heel. No one noticed but because I’d got to a certain level, all I could see were the faults I was making. I was starting to lose the love for it, and that was being replaced by fear and anxiety.”
So she made a bold decision, outlandish at the time, as Ellen calls it, and quit. She started teaching at the London Contemporary Dance School and it was while there someone watching her class, asked if she might be interested in an associate position in the West End.
That person was Peter Darling and the show he wanted help with was Billy Elliot.
The rest as they say…
Now, she’s being lauded for her film work thanks to Matilda.
“I worked on Matilda in the West End,” Ellen says, “and most of the team that worked on that were involved in the film.
“We started working on it in the February but got shut down in the March due to the pandemic, but that was actually quite good for us because it meant we had a lot more time to prepare the dance sequences.
“Dance on film is notoriously tricky but it kind of suits my brain. In order to fill the frame you have to have lots of detail to keep the energy going. Fortunately I had a fantastic team to help me with the workload.”
Which included 250 to 300 children alone.
“I absolutely loved it,” she continues, “especially the scale. It definitely exceeded all my expectations and I’m super proud of what we’ve achieved.”

Waltzing Matilda: Neil D’arcy-jones Talks To The Woman Behind Those Magical Moves In The Hit Musical Movie
Making her moves: Ellen Kane in the rehearsal room