‘Army’s own Billy Elliott’ takes leave to star in show about soldiers

‘Army’s own Billy Elliott’ takes leave to star in show about soldiers

Squaddie dubbed ‘Army’s own Billy Elliott’ who kept his passion for ballet VERY well hidden from colleagues takes leave from the Queen’s Royal Dragoons to star in show about soldiersQueen’s Dragoon Guards trooper Alex Smith, 22, is also a trained dancerKept his talents hidden from military colleagues for two yearsHe is currently on leave performing…


Squaddie dubbed ‘Army’s own Billy Elliott’ who kept his passion for ballet VERY well hidden from colleagues takes leave from the Queen’s Royal Dragoons to star in show about soldiers

  • Queen’s Dragoon Guards trooper Alex Smith, 22, is also a trained dancer
  • Kept his talents hidden from military colleagues for two years
  • He is currently on leave performing in 5 Soldiers, and has been cast in a follow up ‘intense athletic dance show’ 10 Soldiers
  • The show premieres at the Birmingham Hippodrome on May 21

For two years, Alex Smith kept his talents a secret from his fellow soldiers in the Queen’s Dragoon Guards.

The 22-year-old trooper from South Wales, though skilled in military combat, was trained in an altogether different profession.

But now for the first time since joining the Army, Smith will showcase his passion for dance on stage, in a show about soldiers.

Alex Smith, of the Queen's Dragoon Guards, is on leave from the Army to perform in 10 Soldiers at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Alex Smith, of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, is on leave from the Army to perform in 10 Soldiers at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Having studied ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary dance before deciding to join the Army three years ago, Smith thought he had ‘closed that chapter’ in his life.

But after seeing a performance of dance show ‘5 Soldiers’ online, he began to reconsider his previous calling. 

‘I saw 5 Soldiers (a previous production) live-streamed when I was just sat in my room, scrolling down Facebook,’ said Smith.

‘I thought, I’ve danced before and now I’m in the Army. What a perfect opportunity it would be to go back into dance. All the work I’ve done for all those years could count for something.’

Having studied ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary dance before deciding to join the Army three years ago, Smith thought he had 'closed that chapter' in his life

Having studied ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary dance before deciding to join the Army three years ago, Smith thought he had ‘closed that chapter’ in his life

However before landing a role in the show, Smith had not revealed his hidden talents to his comrades. 

‘It was something I never talked about,’ the 22-year-old told The Times.

‘I thought it was a closed chapter in a book that I’d never revisit. I just didn’t think it needed to be mentioned.’

But after taking the offer and deciding to tell them he was surprised at the level of support.

'When I did tell them, they said,

‘When I did tell them, they said, “you should have just said sooner”,’ Smith said of his supportive colleagues

‘When I did tell them, they said, “you should have just said sooner”,’ he said.

After performing in the show and being cast in its follow-up, 10 Soldiers, Smith is now on secondment and is due to return to his regiment in June.

The performance, choreographed by Rosie Kay, ‘tells the stories of men and women serving on the front line’ and opens at the Birmingham Hippodrome in May.

But even for a soldier, Smith says that returning to being a dancer is physically arduous.

Smith was the only boy at his local dance school after asking his parents for lessons at the age of four

Smith was the only boy at his local dance school after asking his parents for lessons at the age of four

‘It’s a different sort of strain on the body. You’ve got bruises on your back, your shoulders are hurting. It still hurts every day. It’s physically taxing.’

Smith was the only boy at his local dance school after asking his parents for lessons at the age of four.

‘There were lots of girls, over 200 girls and I was the only boy,’ he said. ‘Now it’s getting a bit easier. There are five or six boys in every class there now.’

He said his dance background helped with being a soldier ‘a lot’ because ‘I’d been doing classes every day, runs every day’ with Northern Ballet.

After performing in the show and being cast in its follow-up, 10 Soldiers, Smith is now on secondment and is due to return to his regiment in June

After performing in the show and being cast in its follow-up, 10 Soldiers, Smith is now on secondment and is due to return to his regiment in June

‘I was naturally quite fit, which put me in a good place for training.

‘And if I did leave the Army, eventually, I wouldn’t struggle. I know how to communicate with people more, how to get about life and find different opportunities for myself.’

He does not think he will inspire his fellow soldiers to try out any of his moves, saying it would be ‘quite a big one to climb to get soldiers to dance’.

'There were lots of girls, over 200 girls and I was the only boy,' he said. 'Now it's getting a bit easier. There are five or six boys in every class there now'

‘There were lots of girls, over 200 girls and I was the only boy,’ he said. ‘Now it’s getting a bit easier. There are five or six boys in every class there now’

 But some of his colleagues are attending his performances.

When he told them about his background and that he was ‘leaving for a few months’ to take part in a dance production, ‘the reaction was like, ‘It’s such an amazing opportunity to be able to do both”.

Tickets for 10 Soldiers, which premieres at the Birmingham Hippodrome on May 21 can be found here.

Tickets for 10 Soldiers, which premieres at the Birmingham Hippodrome on May 21 are on sale now

Tickets for 10 Soldiers, which premieres at the Birmingham Hippodrome on May 21 are on sale now

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Squaddie dubbed ‘Army’s own Billy Elliott’ takes leave to star in show about soldiers

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