Meet Billy Elliot: Matthew Koon

    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 ThumbMatthew 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 Koon in Billy Elliot
    Matthew Koon (Billy) and Haydn Gwynne (Mrs. Wilkinson)

    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”.  

    Matthew Koon (Billy) and Ann Emery (Grandma)
    Matthew Koon (Billy) and Ann Emery (Grandma)

    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, who were 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.

    On Wednesday, March 31, 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 regularly scheduled show that evening.  Here’s Matthew dancing during that presentation:

    Matthew Koon Dances In the BETM 5th Birthday Celebration
    Matthew Koon Dances In the BETM 5th Birthday Celebration

    Post Billy Activities

    Here are some of the highlights of “life after Billy” for Matthew:

    • Took classes at Centre Pointe Dance Studios in Manchester.
    • Studied full-time at the English National Ballet School (2010-2013).
    • Fonteyn Nureyev Young Dancers Competition – Winner, 2008
    • Janet Cram Awards – Outstanding Dance Award, 2008
    • Janet Cram Awards – Boys Cup, 2008
    • English Dance Championships – Winner, 2009
    • Marjorie Davies Tap Awards – Senior Class Prize, 2009
    • International Ballet Championship – Winner, 2009
    • Young Ballet Dancer of the Year – Winner, 2009
    • Young British Tap Dancer of the Year – Runner-up, 2009
    • Dance Master UK – Winner, 2010
    • Following auditions in 2009, in 2010 Matthew participated in the inaugural series of Got to Dance, a televised dance competition broadcast on Sky One. Here is his performance in the finals:

    Credit: Video by Hang Tran

    • In 2013, Matthew graduated from the English National Ballet School.
    • In August of 2013, Matthew joined the Northern Ballet dance company.

    In 2013, a video called an Introduction to Matthew Koon was made showcasing Matthew’s ballet skills:

    Credit: Video by Matthew Koon

     For more information about Matthew, visit: 

    Billy Elliot The Forum, Facebook, Wikipedia, Bio at The Northern Ballet


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