Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Billy Elliot - educational materials, the musical, the movie

'THIS IS A STORY ABOUT THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF ART, ABOUT DARING TO EXPRESS YOURSELF, ABOUT NURTURING TALENT'

I was listening to CBC the other day and heard news that one of my all-time favourite movies - "Billy Elliot" - is now touring North America as a musical. When I looked it up online, I discovered it has actually been in London's West End since May 2005. So much for ground-breaking news here....but since I love this movie so much, I thought I'd write about it today.

I wanted to share with you all who teach in London information about the education pack that was developed to accompany school tours to the musical. I don't know if any of you are able to attend the musical as the ticket prices are quite steep - 22 GBP per student ticket - but the education material could be adapted for the movie in case any of you KS 3 and above teachers are looking for interesting materials for history lessons.

Although the education pack is aimed predominantly at teachers of students in Year 10 and 11, studying GCSE and vocational courses, when you download the free materials, you will find suggestions that can be utilised for students at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 5.

Subject suitability: Citizenship, Drama & Theatre Studies, English, History and Politics, Music, Performing Arts, PSHE, Dance students.


MOVIE SYNOPSIS: Yorkshire, during the endless, violent 1984 strike against the Thatcher closure of British coal mines: Miners are on strike and the atmosphere is tense. Eleven-year old Billy Elliot, whose father and brother are participating in the strike, whose mother has died quite some time ago and whose grandmother is not completely aware of what's going on, doesn't like the brutal boxing lessons at school.

Instead, he falls for the girls' ballet lessons. When his folks find out about this unusual love of his, Billy is in trouble. Being supported by the ballet teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson, he keeps on training secretly while the work situation as well as the problems at home get worse. Finally, Mrs. Wilkinson manages to get Billy an audition for the Royal Ballet School, but now he also has to open his heart to his family.

View the trailer below:


Or click on the link below for the "unofficial trailer:"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoiVEyCosEE




The movie's story is also mirrored by the young actors who play Billy, whose own true-life experiences of coming from obscurity to command the West End stage are an inspirational demonstration of the power of dreams.


Even if you don't have an opportunity to view this movie within your classroom, rent it with some friends on a weekend. You won't be disappointed!

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
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Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

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