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Billy Elliot

The film Billy Elliot tells the story of an 11-year-old coal miner's son in County Durham, who decides to take ballet dancing classes. However, his father, Jackie, has told him to learn boxing, so young Billy learns to dance in secret, as he knows his dad won't approve.

Billy discovers the ballet classes by chance, after his father sends him to the gym to find out about boxing lessons, so he feels he must lie to his widowed dad to prevent an argument.

Released in 2000, the film tells the story of Billy's struggle to persuade his father to accept his dreams of becoming a ballet dancer. It's an inspiring tale that is aimed at encouraging young boys to be proud of their love for dance.

Made on a budget of £3 million, it was a huge hit that took a massive $109.3 million at the box office worldwide.

It also won a host of awards, including the 2000 British Independent Film Awards' best film, the BAFTA Award for Best British Film, the Young Artist Awards' best family film and the Amanda Awards of Norway's best foreign feature film.


Characters and plot

Jamie Bell, aged 14, played Billy and won many awards for his performance, including the British Independent Film Awards' best newcomer, the BAFTA award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and the Young Artist Awards' Best Young Actor in an International Film. Scooping a BAFTA award for best actress in a supporting role, Julie Walters played his dance teacher, Sandra Wilkinson. Their dance scenes together are warm and uplifting, making Billy Elliot into a true "feel good" movie.

Sandra inspires Billy to greatness, telling his father that the youngster is talented enough to study at the Royal Ballet School.

Jackie is further outraged at the suggestion, still believing ballet is not a suitable career for a man. However, when Jackie accidentally catches Billy dancing one day, he realises how truly gifted his son is.

Sandra offers to pay for Billy to go to London for an audition at the Royal Ballet School, but Jackie is too proud to accept, calling it "charity". Instead, he and his fellow miners have a whip-round and pay for father and son to go to the capital.

Later, Billy receives a letter to say he has successfully passed the audition and the film jumps forward to show 25-year-old Billy, played by English dancer Adam Cooper, performing in Swan Lake, while his proud family watches in the audience.


Stage show

The film inspired a stage show, Billy Elliot the Musical, which premiered in the West End at the Victoria Palace Theatre, London, in 2005. The music was written by Elton John and the lyrics by Lee Hall. It was a massive hit, and was nominated for nine Laurence Olivier Awards, triumphing in four categories, including Best New Musical.

The Broadway production won a staggering 28 awards, including Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, Outer Critics' Circle Award for Outstanding New Broadway Musical and the Tony Award for Best Musical.

The musical has been touring worldwide ever since, taking in Sydney, North America, Seoul, Copenhagen, Helsinki, the UK, Tel Aviv, Budapest, Auckland, Mexico City, Tokyo and more. It has picked up further awards wherever it has been staged. A tour of Australia is planned for 2019.

If you're a keen dancer, make sure you practice in a safe environment by using Coruba's rubber gym and studio mats, which are available in a variety of sizes and designs – they will help protect against slips and injuries.

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