The Irish Americans
Thirteen-year-old Trent Kowalik has gone from Irish dance champion to Broadway star in just two years. The youngest American to win a first place at the World Championships in Belfast, Trent made IA’s Top 100 list in 2006 when he was only eleven.
In order to land the lead role in Billy Elliot, the Broadway musical, Trent had to do a lot more than just show off his dancing skills. The role of Billy is so taxing that the producers decided to hire not one but three young actors to play the part on alternating nights. Aside from the almost three continual hours onstage with six or seven dance numbers, Billy must also act, sing and speak in Northern England’s distinctive Geordie accent. Having played Billy in London’s West End production, Trent had some experience under his belt that helped him win the part on Broadway.
A native of Wantagh, New York, Trent was dancing at an early age; his mother even likes to say he was dancing in the womb. Before he turned three he was discovered wearing his sister’s tap shoes, standing in front of a TV mimicking Michael Flatley’s dance moves. From there it was on to ballet, tap, hip-hop and acrobatic tumbling at Dorothy’s School of Dance in Bellmore, New York with concurrent Irish dance lessons at the Inishfree School of Dance.
Despite all his success Trent remains remarkably humble, glad to share the spotlight with his Billy counterparts and
giving credit to his friends, dance instructors and most importantly to his family.
Trent is fifth-generation Irish-American. Both his parents, Mike and Lauretta have Irish roots, with Lauretta’s family coming from County Roscommon.
Though his Irish dancing days might be past for now, Trent notes that they are not forgotten. “I’ve always loved Irish step dancing,” he says, “but I think that after doing this part I want to focus more on acting. But I’ll always remember it.”
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