5 Reasons You Should Be Excited About "High Strung: Free Dance," Coming Soon to Theaters
Juliet Doherty and Thomas Doherty in High Strung: Free Dance (photo by Jo Bee, courtesy Michael Damian)
Click here to get the inside scoop on High Strung: Free Dance's leading lady, Juliet Doherty!
High Strung: Free Dance, the sequel to 2016's epic High Strung, is about to hit theaters. We've got all the details on the super-dancy film.
1. It's by artists, for artists.
Both High Strung and High Strung: Free Dance are the brainchildren of husband-and-wife team Michael and Janeen Damian, who write and produce the films together. Janeen brings loads of expertise as a former professional dancer who studied at the School of American Ballet before switching to commercial dance, performing alongside Michael Jackson, Prince, Elton John, George Michael, and Paula Abdul. Michael, who also directs the films, brings his own artistic flair, thanks to a background on Broadway and in the music industry.
2. The dancing is nonstop…
High Strung: Free Dance's moves were created by a dream team: head choreographer Tyce Diorio and associate choreographers Myles Thatcher, Phillip Chbeeb, and Nakul Dev Mahajan. There are more than 120 dancers from all over the world in the film, including Melissa Chapski from the Dutch National Ballet, and principal dancers from Bucharest's National Opera Ballet. "There's everything from Great Gatsby–style theatrical choreo to very classical styles," Diorio says. "Myles and I created a contemporary duet for Juliet and Thomas that's stunning and emotional, but there's also a stylized heels piece during an audition scene." Diorio oversaw all of the dance in the film, while Thatcher was responsible for classical and contemporary ballet—"anything in a pointe shoe," Thatcher says. "I learned a lot from seeing the other choreographers in their processes, how they approached the studio, how they used dynamics, and what details they focused on. It's amazing to see how all of these different forms of dance can be so different, yet speak the same way."
3. …and so is the drama.
Doherty in the "High Strung: Free Dance" finale (photo by Manuel Pacific, Courtesy Michael Damian)
"I would call the film an inspiring drama-romance," Janeen says. "It's not dark, but it's not cheeky, either. It's emotional." Though Janeen says the ending is "unusual," and that test audiences were torn over the result, she thinks the film's final moments will come as a "happy surprise."
4. There's an all-new cast—with the exception of one familiar (and famous) face from the original.
"You're going to learn a lot more about Oksana, Jane Seymour's character from the first film," Michael says. "But other than that, it's a new cast and a new story."
5. Ultimately, it's all about love.
"The film examines what it means to be a passionate young artist breaking into the industry, and the complexities that come with asking our art to support us both emotionally and financially," Thatcher says. "And it all boils down to love. Love of our art, love of each other, and love of humanity."
A version of this story appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "The Scoop on 'High Strung: Free Dance'."
Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.
This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!
After a string of ballet-company rejections, Jennifer Sydor (here in Laura Peterson's "Failure") found success in other areas of the dance world. (Stephen Delas Heras, courtesy Jennifer Sydor)
In her senior year at Butler University, Jennifer Sydor auditioned for more than a dozen regional ballet companies—and got a string of "no, thank you" responses. "I have an athletic build, and my movement quality isn't the typical ballet aesthetic," Sydor says. "But I'd been laser-focused on ballet. When I didn't get a ballet contract, I was heartbroken."
Her one job offer came from Kim Robards Dance, a small modern company based in Aurora, CO. After attending KRD's summer intensive, Sydor ended up accepting a yearlong position with the troupe. "I was relieved and happy to begin my career," she says. She's been working as a contemporary dancer ever since.
In the dance world, rejection is part of the package. That doesn't make it any more pleasant. But whether you didn't get the Nutcracker role of your dreams or you weren't picked for a job despite feeling like you aced the audition, you can emerge from even the most gut-wrenching "no" smarter and stronger.
Ballet West principal Beckanne Sisk as Kitri (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)
Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!