Note: Matthew’s Final known Performance as Billy in London was December 2, 2006
Debut: March 1, 2006 (London)
Total Performances as Billy: Unknown (Unreported data from the period he was Billy ) (Recorded data: 80.5– includes 3 partial shows credited @ .5)
Matthew Koon was the 6th Billy to grace the Victoria Palace Theatre stage in Billy Elliot the Musical. Early on in the process of creating the musical, Stephen Daldry and the other creative staff members made the decision that casting for the show’s lead role was difficult enough in terms of finding a boy who had the right combination of dance, singing and acting abilities without worrying about what his cultural background was. The decision, therefore, was to be “colorblind” regarding the casting of the role of Billy. Matthew, of Asian heritage, would be the first non white Billy in the show’s history but, as time would tell, would certainly not be the last.
Matthew’s parents emigrated to the UK from China several years before he was born (D.O.B. = 15-Dec-1993). Matthew grew up outside of Manchester where he began dancing at a very young age, two-years-old. He had been tagging along with his older sister to her dance classes at the Alison Livesey School of Dance and Drama in Whitefield, Greater Manchester. As he relates “I used to run around in her lessons and the teacher would ask me to join in. I just got into dancing.” As he grew older, he got more serious about it. At the age of 10, he joined the Junior Associate program of the Royal Ballet School.
His ballet teacher told him about the open auditions for the musical to be held in Manchester, near where Matthew lives. Having been the only boy in many of his dance classes to that point, Matthew was startled to see so many other boys at the audition, which took place at the Zion Centre in Manchester. “I never thought that I’d see so many boys that wanted to dance.” A few weeks after his first audition, he was asked back for a second audition, this one in London. Again, he made the cut and he was asked to take part in an intensive training program for the role. Matthew describes that experience, “Every Saturday we’d go to Leeds to do training. We did acro, ballet, tap, and every now and then we’d do another audition, and people would get knocked off.” But he didn’t get “knocked off”.
In the summer of 2005, he learned he had been chosen to “Be Billy”. In October, he moved into the Billy House in London where the boys and girls currently in the cast in the roles of Billy, Michael and Debbie lived together along with those recently chosen to join the cast, the latter group there to undergo the rigorous training to prepare them for their debuts in the show.
Matthew’s debut took place on 1-Mar-2006. It was the beginning of 10 months in the role during which he would play Billy more than 80 times. His final show was on 2-Dec-2006.
Life After Billy
As noted, the original profile article, above, was authored by porschesrule. The Life After Billy segment, below, was researched and written by rsbatchelor.
2007 – After Billy, Matthew took classes at Centre Pointe Dance Studio in Manchester.
2008 – Matthew won Fonteyn Nureyev Young Dancers Competition in 2008. He was also Outstanding Dancer and won the Boys Cup for the Janet Cram Awards.
2009 – Matthew auditioned for Got to Dance, a televised dance competition broadcast on Sky One in 2009. He danced underwater in the music video Colder filmed at Pinewood Studios underwater stage and directed by Ilaria D’Elia seen here.
Credit: Ilaria D’Elia
He was a winner at the English Dance Championships, International Ballet Championship, received Young Ballet Dancer of the Year and Young British Tap Dancer of the Year – Runner-up. He also took the Senior Class Prize for Marjorie Davies Tap Awards.
2010 – In 2010, five years to the day after the first preview of the London show, a birthday celebration was held during which a special Finale, which included 19 past, present and future Billys took place at the VPT after the evening show. Here is a picture of Matthew dancing during that presentation.
He was the winner of Dance Master UK, which took place at the Opera House Theatre in Winter Gardens, Blackpool and was promoted by the International Dance Teachers’ Association. It was there he was offered a spot at the English National Ballet School. He started his studies at the English National Ballet School full-time. Matthew danced on Show2010 at Royal Albert Hall to Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars in September. He also competed in the inaugural series of Got to Dance to the song Beautiful Day by U2 seen below.
Credit: Hang Tran
2011 – Matthew performed in The Nutcracker Grande Pas de Deux with the English National Ballet School’s 2011 Christmas production. Here he is.
Credit: English National Ballet School
2013 – In early 2013, Matthew graduated from the English National Ballet School. In August he joined the Northern Ballet Dance Company and performed as First Soloist. He was nominated for Newcomer of the Year in Tanz Magazine Yearbook in 2013.
2014 – Matthew performed in Concerto Six Twenty-Two, Concertante, Luminous, Juncture with choreography by Lar Lubovitch at Royal Opera House in Linbury Theatre. He also participated in West End Billy Elliot, Billys Unite!
2017 – Matthew danced the role of Bruno in the Northern Ballet The Boy in the Striped Pajamas directed by Daniel De Andrade. Here is a picture of Matthew as Bruno.
2018 – Matthew stared in the ShakeUp Cosmetics commercial. He danced in the music video Talk Nice by No Rome, directed by Adam Powell. He performed in Northern Ballet The Nutcracker.
2019 – Matthew performed an untitled contemporary piece by Mlindi Kulashe to the song Heart Wrenching by artist Olafur Arnalds. Take a look.
Credit: Matthew Koon
2020 – He played Arthur Holmwood in Dracula with Northern Ballet directed by David Nixon. He Joined the Yellow Earth Performers Academy in 2020. He performed in several roles in the New Earth Theatre with New Earth Performers Academy. One of which is Signal Fires: Beyond Chinatown which was inspired by the Peterloo Massacre Memorial which paved the way for democracy. Here you see his performance.
Credit: New Earth Theatre
2021 – Matthew was on Let’s Talk with SIFMA UK. He performed as Chevalier Danceny with Northern Ballet in June. His favorite roles while in Northern Ballet were, Romeo and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Edgar in Wuthering Heights, Cavalier in the Nutcracker, Peter in Peter Pan, and Wilson in The Great Gatsby. Matthew received a BA Honors for Professional Practice, Arts and Creative Industries – First Class Honors 2021. He also participated in a few commercials. Matthew played the mythical wizard Merlin in Northern Ballet’s Merlin with choreography by Drew McOnie. He played Jacob Cho in a video with the Creating Apart/Exit Pursued by Panda company. He left Northern Ballet in December 2021.
2022 – Matthew recently filmed a BBC series called Everything I Know About Love, performing with Emma Appleton. He was in several commercials in 2022 and danced in the movie Greatest Days directed by Coky Giedroyc. Matthew performed with The Lowry Scratch Night Programme in The Lowry Theatre in Existential.
For more information about Matthew, visit: