Meet Billy Elliot: Kiril Kulish

    Note: Kiril’s Final Performance as Billy on Broadway was on October 3, 2009

    Debut: October 1, 2008 (Broadway)

    Total Performances as Billy: 119.5 (includes 1 partial show credited @.5)

    Kiril Kulish ThumbKiril Kulish is one of the over 1500 boys who initially auditioned for the role of Billy on Broadway.  That he was ultimately chosen to be one of the three boys to originate the role was not surprising to his fans.

    By the age of 13, Kiril had already accomplished much in his young life.  Born on February 16, 1994 and raised in San Diego (his family originally hailed from Ukraine), his sister introduced him to dance at the tender age of three years old.  He loved it from the start and soon was wowing audiences both in ballet (the youngest member ever admitted to the Junior Company of the San Diego Academy of Ballet, winning the Youth America Grand Prix competition) and ballroom dance (US National Champion in the junior division).  He is also an extremely gifted concert pianist.

    To get an idea of what the casting people of Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM) saw in him, here’s a video of the then 12-year-old Kiril, while a student at the San Diego Academy of Ballet,  dancing in the 2007 YAGP.  The number is called Silent Cry:


    Credit: Video by ruclassmax

    Once chosen to Be Billy, there were many long days of training and rehearsals as Kiril and his fellow Billys not only learned the show, but also built up their stamina so their bodies would be able to make it through an almost three hour show, several days a week.  In addition to all of that, the boys were expected to make the rounds of the media to promote the opening of the show.

    In the days leading up to his first performance as Billy, Kiril was spotlighted in this introductory video produced by BETM:


    Credit: Video by frankhp11

    Kiril had the distinction of being the Broadway Billy to perform the role in the first preview of the show on October 1, 2008.

    Along with his fellow original Broadway Billys, David Alvarez and Trent Kowalik, Kiril made history when he won the Tony Award in June of 2009 for Best Actor in a Musical, the first time the statuette had been awarded to three individuals jointly playing the same role.

    The Broadway Billys in Times Square
    Kiril Kulish (centre) alongside his fellow Broadway Billys, David Alvarez (left) and Trent Kowalik (right)

    Having grown tall and seeing his voice drop over his year as Billy, Kiril’s last performance was on October 3, 2009, just over a year from when he first performed as Billy before a live audience.  He had performed the role on the Imperial Theatre stage 119.5 times.

    While leaving his options open, Kiril returned to California where he continued his education academically and in dance.  He has especially done well in the years since Billy in Ballroom dancing competitions.  There’s no doubt we’ll continue to hear lots more from this talented young man!

    Life After Billy

    2009 –   After leaving BETM in October of 2009, Kiril began rehearsals for what we all know as a Christmas classic.  On December 27th and 30th Kiril starred in Helmer Leonid Kozlov’s version of the The Nutcracker at the Occidental Grand Aruba in Palm Beach, Florida.

    Credit: Video by Samantha Clauter

    2010 –   On January 2nd, highlights from The Nutcracker were combined with a special solo performance by Kiril at the Occidental Grand Aruba in Palm Beach.  On February 6th, Kiril attended the USA Dance Southwest Regional Championship in Long Beach, California, dancing with Natella Devitskaya.  They qualified 3rd in Youth Championship Latin (SCRPJ).  Kiril and partner Melonie Krumer competed at the April 9-11, 2010 National Ballroom Dance Championships in Los Angeles.  Also in 2010, Kiril trained with the San Diego Academy of Ballet, working with Maxim Tchernychev.

    2012 –   In October, Kiril performed with a host of famous singers in Loving the Silent Tears: A New Musical at the Shrine Theater in Los Angeles. Kiril also competed in the USA Dance National DanceSport Championships in Irvine, CA with Nino Dzneladze placing 1st in Amateur Youth Championship Latin (SCRPJ).  He and Nino placed 9th in Amateur Adult Championship Latin. 

    2013 –   In February, Kiril danced with his partner Jenna Johnson in the USA Dance Competition Southwest DanceSport Championships, receiving 1st place in Amateur-NQE Adult Championship Latin (SCRPJ).

    Credit: Video by Beata Mandell

    April 5-7, 2013 Kiril again danced with Jenna placing 2nd in the Amateur Under 21 Championship Latin (SCRPJ) and 3rd in Amateur Adult Championship Latin for the USA Dance National DanceSport Championships.  

    2014 –   In 2014, Kiril participated in the indie music drama Sonata by Media Productions. In it he played opposite Booboo Stewart from the Twilight Saga.

    2016 –   In 2016 Kiril joined the Professional Dance Troupe on season 22 of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars.

    Kiril Kulish with the Dancing With The Stars Professional Troupe. L-r: Shannon Holtzapeffel, Jenna Johnson, Kiril Kulish, Dennis Jauch, Hayley Erbert, Alan Bersten (Credit: Photo by Craig Sjodin)

    2017 –   Kiril and Brittany Cherry performed a cha cha at a 2017 Veterans Day Gala event in Ohio.  Then Kiril had the rare opportunity to choreograph the November 7th to December 17th running of Chasing Mem’ries world premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, starring Tyne Daly.  Kiril was welcomed to the Venetian and the Palazzo with BAZ – A Musical Mash–Up on December 26, 2017.  He played the role of Scott the Ballroom Dancer in  BAZ – A Musical MashUp, a “new-generation of cabaret and high energy movie-music mash-up.”

    2018 –   Kiril co-starred as Fortune Priadnya in season 2, episode 3, Swipe Right of the HBO anthology series, Room 104, created by Jay and Mark Duplass which aired November 16, 2018.  The series looks inside of Room 104 at an average American corporate motel to see the characters and stories inside on any given night. 

    2019 –   On June 5th Kiril appeared in The New York Times article called They Shared a Tony for ‘Billy Elliot’.  What Did They Do for an Encore?  Also In June, an indie drama film was released that was originally titled Rivers of Milk and Honey, but later changed to Crossing.  It is “a coming of age film that juxtaposes the USSR during the Cold War with Los Angeles during the 2008 stock market crash.”  Kiril played Young Andrei.  It was filmed in Los Angeles and directed by Arthur Ian.  



    For more information about Kiril Kulish visit:

    Kiril Kulish, Billy Elliot the Forum 


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