Fast-forward more than a decade and the dancer’s talent has taken him all over Australia, performing with some of the biggest names in both the Australian and international hip-hop scene.
Though only 20 years old, Matthew has had a far from ordinary life.
His paternal grandparents migrated to Australia from the Calabrian town of Palizzi Superiore and built their family here.
When Matthew’s father was 18 months old, the family packed up and returned to Italy, settling in Florence.
It was in the Tuscan capital that Matthew’s parents would later meet and fall in love, before moving to Australia to start their own family.
Similar to his father, Matthew was born in Australia, but moved back to Italy with his family when he was still a child, learning to speak Italian before English.
Only this time, the family stayed for just a few years before returning to Melbourne, where Matthew has spent most of his life.
The talented performer first stumbled across breakdancing in a movie when he was a young boy and decided to give it a go.
“I took a few classes and I haven’t stopped dancing since,” he says.
It turns out that first ever class would mark the beginning of an extraordinary career.
The teacher, Michael Farah, would go on to mentor Matthew as he grew up and gave him the opportunity to travel around Australia, working for his company, Indigenous HIP HOP Projects (IHHP), when he turned 18.
Founded in 2005, IHHP is a team of talented artists in hip-hop, media, entertainment and performing arts, who work extensively in Aboriginal communities around the nation.
The organisation specialises in week-long intensive projects which aim to enable young people to make healthy life choices and maximise educational and economic opportunities.
Working mainly in remote areas of Australia, the company engages with 55 communities every year.
As one of the organisation’s artists, Matthew runs workshops in which children learn to dance while engaging with important issues relevant to their community.
The week-long initiatives culminate in a concert, allowing the children to show off their new moves to family and friends.
While teaching dance in remote Indigenous communities, Matthew met fellow IHHP artist Danzel Baker, better known as Baker Boy.
“We became really close friends and when he started his Baker Boy journey I became a part of it,” Matthew says.
Baker Boy made his debut as a rapper last year with his songs ‘Cloud 9’ and ‘Marryuna’ ranking No.76 and No.17 respectively on the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown.
Dubbed the “Fresh New Prince of Arnhem Land”, he has made waves with his unique rapping style, which incorporates lyrics in English and his native Yolngu Matha language.
Baker Boy’s sudden rise to fame has seen him travel the nation, performing shows and festivals and supporting international acts.
Matthew has been there every step of the way, adding life to Baker Boy’s sets with his captivating dance moves and contagious energy.
Matthew (left) performing with Baker Boy at triple j Unearthed Live At The Steps last year.
The young dancer describes performing on both 50 Cent’s and Dizzee Rascal’s Australian tours as unforgettable experiences.
“I grew up listening to 50 Cent, so to think that I was on the same stage that he was going to be performing on was crazy,” he says.
Living and breathing dance, Matthew now divides his time between working for IHHP and performing with Baker Boy.
It’s a life which he doesn’t intend on giving up any time soon.
“I absolutely love working in Indigenous communities; it’s an awesome experience learning about their culture,” he says.
“Touring with Baker Boy is incredible as well and whole crew is really close. Danzel and I are like brothers.”
In fact, the pair are so close that Matthew visited Baker Boy’s native Milingimbi Island, where he was adopted into his friend’s family by an elder.
“He’s pretty much been adopted into my family as well,” the young artist says.
“He’s always at my house and my mum always cooks for him so he’s had a taste of Italy.”
Having just got back from a four-week tour for IHHP, which took him to Uluru, the Western Australian desert and Central Queensland, Matthew is already set to jet off again.
Today he’ll head to Bunbury, in Western Australia, to perform alongside Baker Boy at Groovin the Moo.
From there, he’ll go to work for IHHP in the community of Frog Hollow, teaching children a dance routine that they’ll then perform in front of around 7,000 people at the Kimberly Moon Experience in Kununurra.
“I did it for the first time last year and the kids absolutely loved it,” he says.
“It’s a good way to help them step up and be proud of who they are.”
Whether by getting huge crowds on their feet or addressing some of the most pressing issues in remote Indigenous communities, Matthew Mastratisi has certainly turned his passion for dance into a rewarding career.
And at just 20 years old, the world is his oyster.