The show takes place in the town of Easington, in the northern part of England, 1984. Billy’s community, in which the vast majority of adult males work in the coal industry, is suffering through a major work stoppage (strike) to protest Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s attempts to break the then powerful coal miners’ union. Billy’s family is severely affected by the strike as both his father and brother are miners who are on strike.
Billy possesses extraordinary talent as a dancer, yet his father and brother are totally against the idea of Billy learning to dance. As a result, Billy is forced to take his boxing lesson money and use it secretly for dance lessons from Mrs. Wilkinson. She quickly notices that Billy is a prodigy and takes him under her wing. Soon, even though Billy's father resists, Mrs. Wilkinson manages to get Billy an audition with The Royal Ballet School. In the end, the entire town along with Billy’s father come around and support Billy's dream to become a dancer. Even though Billy gets in a fight with a dancer at the school, Billy defies the odds and is finally accepted into the Royal Ballet School.