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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Musicals: Broadway Show Billy Elliot

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On the accent thing, Heather Mills is a Gordie her ex is a Liverpuddlian and they sound nothing alike with less than 100 miles of geography between them. Accents change quickly in the North of England and I'm sure a vocal coach can get the right one down. Actually, being bi-lingual will help with the whole accent development which is essential to get right. I watch BBC America a lot and get as irritated with a fake American accent poorly executed as I do with a lousy cockney accents that are beyond fake!


These are very lucky young men and I wish them all the greatest success.

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  • nutmeg


  • Treefrog


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  • Hamorah


I remember seeing Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love, Sliding Doors and Emma and actually thinking that she was really English! However, I still cringe every time I think of Dick Van Dyke's diabolical cockney accent in Mary Poppins! So I guess it works both ways. Personally I find it wierd listening to someone I know to be British trying to speak with an American accent - there I am expecting a plummy BBC accent to come out of their mouths and suddenly out pops an American one instead!


Northern England accents are very thick and very varied and I wouldn't know if the Billy Elliots used the right one or not. Funnily enough I remember being asked for directions once by a Northerner and she was really excited at being able to understand my reply - according to her I was the first southerner she'd actually understood since arriving in London! I suppose all those speech training and drama classes at school were useful after all.


I saw the London version of Billy Elliot soon after it came out. They used trained dancers there too - one of them was a student at the Royal Ballet School, but they were quite young - one was 11 I think. He gets to do much more "proper" dancing than in the film, where you felt that the Billy was basically untrained. There's a very beautiful dream sequence, which was added in and gives Billy a chance to show his talents.

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I'm glad you mentioned the dream sequence. It's really beautiful.


I saw Avenue Q in London, the same trip that I saw Billy Elliot. Although many of the actors were Brits, you wouldn't know it from the accents.

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Didn't they do well, then!!! I thought I was seeing the original Broadway cast! Off subject, but I really didn't like Avenue Q - it was extremely clever and very well done, but not really to my taste. My son on the other hand ADORED it and he nagged us until we agreed to go and see it. I told him that I didn't fancy it, but he insisted, so maybe I went already prejudiced.......

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Slightly off topic here. I saw the original West End production of Chorus Line back in the late 70's. The cast was all British and mainly Royal Ballet trained dancers, I'd not have know they were not Americans on stage, it was an amazing group of performers right down to the last nuance of accent with many an American dialect. It's all in the training and the coaching! Hamorah, I agree with you regarding Dick Van Dyke and Mary Poppins, it was definately cringe time. Lets hope these young men are coached long and hard, a Gordie accent is quite distinct and northern accents can change from street to street. They don't need to be quite that picky but getting it right can really make or break a production.

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Mel Johnson

About the film, there was a bit of cinema verité going on there. The remarkable Jamie Bell came from a family of dancers - tap and clog! He was actually learning more and more about ballet as the film was being shot. As a result, some of the things that were shot early, you can tell, because he's sort of in a ballet-ungelled state for those scenes. He actually made a remarkable amount of progress in the space of a short shooting schedule, and is all the more praiseworthy for that.

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I agree Mel and wasnt that the whole point of the film? The kid did not start out knowing anything about it. :unsure:

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In terms of the differences between American en British English beign overcome or used in plays or movies, the same thing happens with Dutch and Flemish. Basically the same language, with different dialects and words. This is often used, for example in The Lion King where in the Dutch version the have Timon and Pumba speak Flemish.


This fall, a Dutch musical about an Amsterdam street boy will come to Belgium. They will hire Flemish boys for this, who will have to learn the Amsterdam dialect. I wonder whether he will be able to learn it right. We don't have the same level of coaching as on Broadway going on here.

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  • 10 months later...

I saw Billy Elliot a couple of weeks ago and thought Kiril Kulish was fabulous. The entire audience gave him a standing ovation after the Royal Ballet audition piece. Truly spectacular. The boy who played Michael was also delightful. Hope others get to see it and and enjoy it as much as we did.

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I'm looking forward to seeing both David and Kiril in the lead role. I saw Trent last week; he was fabulous! Also a standing ovation. I think the audience is collectively another cast member :shrug: - everyone was so excited throughout the whole show. That was every bit as much entertainment as the musical itself. I'm seeing it again in April and then another time in May.

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  • 6 months later...

For any Billy Elliot fans out there I thought you might like to know that tomorrow, October 3rd, is Kiril Kulish's last performance as Billy. (This was posted on playbill.com as well as Kiril's fan page on Facebook.) I have been fortunate enough to see Kiril perform the role twice and he is a very talented young man. I'm not sure what his future plans are but I wish him the best of luck!

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I have a personal pull for Tommy Batchelor. My sister was his ballet and modern teacher at BAK Middle School of the Arts. He came back from NY to give an empassioned speech to the school board when my sister was in danger of losing her job due to budget cuts. His support of her was heartfelt and beautiful. In addition to his speech, other teachers "donated" time and parts of their budget which helped her retain her position. She was so honored when she went to NYC to see him in the lead. He was really great. I am curious is anyone else has seen him in the lead role. Would love to hear an "unbiased' opinion, lol!

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b1 - I have also seen Tommy Batchelor in the role of Billy and was very impressed. He acted and danced the part beautifully and his singing voice is very strong! (I'm a drama teacher so I have a "critical eye!" :innocent: ) I read on playbill.com that Tommy is going to Chicago to perform in Billy Elliot there. It's so nice that this show is giving all these talented boys a chance to perform!

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i think Kiril is going to travel with a new "Kings of the Dance" show. He also has offers of scholarships from the Royal Ballet in London and ABT, so he has lots of options in front of him...

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