Travel to NYC? Check. Audition for Broadway show? Check. Win the starring role in said Broadway show? Check! By the time Alex Ko was 13, he’d crossed more items off his bucket list than most kids would dare to dream of. But now, at 17, he’s checked off one more: publish a memoir. Alex Ko: From Iowa to Broadway, My Billy Elliot Story tells his tale of training in ballet and dancing in the Tony Award–winning Billy Elliot: The Musical. DS spoke to Alex about how he’s done it all.
Dance Spirit: When did you decide to write a book?
Alex Ko: I always liked writing in school, but my plan was to be a dancer. Then, I got injured a week into my run with Billy Elliot—I ripped the patella tendon in my knee and was out of the show for five months. When I couldn’t dance, I realized writing was my backup plan. I started jotting down my experiences for myself, and then it progressed into a real story over the next couple years.
DS: Once you started performing again, how did you find the time to write?
AK: My dance training taught me focus, and I definitely needed it to sit down and write for hours whenever I could. I would write on the subway, at home in bed and even backstage during shows.
DS: What’s your favorite part of the book?
AK: The family memories. My dad died when I was 11, and writing the chapter about his passing was difficult—it felt like I was reliving it. But in the end, writing it down was therapeutic.
DS: Who do you hope will read it?
AK: Anyone with a dream.
DS: What’s next for you?
AK: Right now, I’m training every day with Wilhelm Burmann at Steps on Broadway in NYC. I hope to keep dancing and to go to college to study English and writing.