The Night I Decided I Want to Be a Ballerina

You know when you go to a show or a concert or something, and you think, "Gosh, I wish I could do that!" That's how Billy Elliot made me feel. See this musical unearthed a longing (that I never knew I had) to be a professional dancer.

I'm not even kidding all that much.

The show tells the story of a young boy, Billy, living in a mining town with a rough, miner father and no mother. One day, while hanging around in the community center after his boxing class, Billy finds himself in the middle of a dance class. The teacher tells him that if he's not going to leave immediately, he has to dance, so Billy tries to dance. And the next week: Billy tries to dance. After several weeks of these lessons (which Billy keeps a secret from his father), he starts to get the hang of it, and his teacher starts to see just how much potential he has. Billy is a natural dancer. He has that 'something' that those of us that are not natural dancers wish we had. He dances with passion and electricity. Billy's father eventually finds out that his son has been skipping boxing lessons and going to ballet class, and it really makes him mad. As his dancing improves, his teacher urges him to audition for the Royal Ballet School, which his father of course is opposed to. Billy wants a chance for a better life, a life outside the mining town, and eventually, his father sees the light and lets him audition for ballet school. It's a sweet story about a boy that breaks society's expectations with his love of dance.

This is a great musical, y'all. It has everything: a great story, great sets, great music (the music was written by Elton John, and it's really good, though sometimes it's very...'Elton John.' A little flamboyant. But it fits.), and, of course, great dancing. PHENOMENAL dancing. I was SO impressed with all of the kids in the show...these kids are something like 9-13 years old, and all of them were incredible ballet/tap dancers.

There were many cool technical aspects of the show, like all of the set pieces being able to be rolled off, leaving a bare stage. There were also several platforms that raised and lowered out of the stage floor. Another cool bit was a dance sequence where Billy was in a harness, flying around the stage. It was a beautiful, memorable scene.

The only thing about the show that was a bit of a problem for me was the heavy accents. The show takes place in a little town in rural England, and as such, most characters speak in thick country accents. Often times, I couldn't understand what was being said. At all. But that's the great thing about theatre: you're hearing it AND watching it, so even though I had trouble understanding the actor's speech, I had no trouble following the story.

This was an excellent show, a very British show, with a lot of heart, and a lot of great dancing, and a truly touching story. I believe I cried at the end. But, then...I cry a lot.

Jenna Light