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Billy Elliot The Musical: visual representations of working-class masculinity and the all-singing, all-dancing bo[d]y

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Abstract:

According to Cynthia Weber, [d]ance is commonly thought of as liberating, transformative, empowering, transgressive, and even as dangerous. Yet ballet as a masculine activity still remains a suspect phenomenon. This paper will challenge this claim in relation to Billy Elliot The Musical and its critical reception. The transformation of the visual representation of the human body on stage (from an ephemeral existence to a timeless work of art) will be discussed and analysed vis-a-vis the text and sub-texts of Stephen Daldry's direction and Peter Darling's choreography. The dynamics of working-class masculinity will be contextualised within the framework of the family, the older female, the community, the self and the act of dancing itself.

Keywords: Billy Elliot; Masculinity; dancing musicals; male dancers; representations of the male

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/smt.1.3.275_1

Affiliations: University of Leeds.

Publication date: 2007-12-01

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  • Studies in Musical Theatre is a refereed journal which considers areas of live performance that use vocal and instrumental music in conjunction with theatrical performance as a principal part of their expressive language.
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