Harrison Dowzell

Talented dancer, Harrison Dowzell, left home at the tender age of 11 to achieve his “Billy Elliot” dream.

Harrison Dowzell made his stage debut in 2012, becoming the 30th boy to play the role of Billy Elliot at the Palace Theatre in the renowned West End musical. He returned to school to finish his studies but was keen to get back to the stage. He continued his training with the Trinity Level 6 Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre on a scholarship at Performers College in Essex. He has been wowing audiences with his skilful performances ever since. 

“I love telling a story through dance. You get lost in the music - this is where I feel at home.”

An early start in dance

Harrison began dancing at the age of eight and has an impressive collection of roles and performances for such a young artist. He joined Matthew Bourne's New Adventures during his final year at college, and played the roles of Romeo and Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet, followed by Julian and Anton in The Red Shoes

He has been awarded ‘Dancer of the Month’ in the Dancing Times Magazine, and has appeared in Matthew Bourne's Spitfire as part of the BBC’s Dance Nation and the British Ballet Charity Gala at the Royal Albert Hall. 

Singing backstage while Sting watched the show he was performing in, Message in a Bottle, was a particularly memorable experience for Harrison. Harrison continues to delight audiences with his characterisation and beautiful choreography in Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker tour and The Car Man at The Royal Albert Hall.

Unexpected pathways into performance

“I went for the Billy Elliot audition having never danced a step of ballet in my life - when they asked me to do a pirouette I had no idea what that was.”

As a child, Harrison was a keen footballer, with the potential to become professional, but it was when he watched the film Billy Elliot that his love for dance began. Aged eight, he realised that he wanted to dance like Billy, and joined the local dance school.

By the age of 10, it was clear that Harrison could follow a successful career in either football or dance and he had to choose to specialise in one. He decided to audition for Billy Elliot to help him make the decision. 

Despite not knowing any ballet moves, Harrison was invited back for a further audition and to prepare, his family paid for private ballet lessons with his recent winnings from ‘Vale’s Got Talent’ - a regional talent competition. Still only in Year 6, Harrison smashed the audition and fulfilled his dream to ‘dance like Billy’. 

This required him to leave home to live in the official ‘Billy House’ playing the part of Billy and following a strict schedule of tutoring, dance practice, healthy eating and fitness. Harrision loved every moment, only choosing to leave and return to mainstream school to join his peers at the age of 14.

Nurturing an existing talent

“College was one of the best times of my life - if I could go back and relive those years I would.”

Harrison knew he wanted to pursue dance as a career and was offered scholarships to all the colleges he applied to, eventually choosing the Trinity Level 6 Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre at Performers College. Harrison loved his three-year course, and the 12-hour days where he learned the value of hard work, saying ‘I was never that lazy kid.’ He also learnt how to read a room and handle yourself professionally in audition scenarios. 

It was during his third year that he achieved another of his childhood dreams of getting to dance on stage with Adam Cooper who played the adult version of Billy in the film, and is remembered for his famous leap as the main swan at the finale. 

The secret: a single-track mind

“Don’t worry about what others think, as long as you are happy and comfortable then crack on and be proud of what you can do with your achievements.”

Harrison’s talent and work ethic has clearly built up trust and confidence with his co-workers. His message to those wanting to follow a career in dance is not to worry about what others think. He strongly believes in following your passions to achieve your goals. 

He encourages others to hold onto their dreams, especially during the tough times, safe in the knowledge that it does get easier and better times are ahead; once you are with like-minded people who share similar interests and talents to you, there’s no knowing how far you could go.



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