© Universum/Squareone/Walt Disney Studios

StreetDance: New York (High Strung)
U.S.A./Romania 2016

Opening 14 Jul 2016

Directed by: Michael Damian
Writing credits: Janeen Damian, Michael Damian
Principal actors: Keenan Kampa, Nicholas Galitzine, Jane Seymour, Paul Freeman, Maia Morgenstern

In this heart-warming film for music and dance lovers, classical ballet dancer Ruby (Kampa) meets violinist Johnnie (Galitzine). Ruby is enrolled in ballet school and Johnnie plays for coins in a cup on a busy street corner – both in New York City. Together they work out a program to combine their classical and hip hop styles; they are supported by a group called The SwitchSteps. The story is predictable but no less delightful and carries the moral (to quote director Damian): “what you learn through the arts can be carried with you in whatever you do in life.” 

Most interesting are the creators who make this film possible. Michael Damian not only makes movies but has a history of music, for example, he starred as Joseph in the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on Broadway; he has released five albums and had eight top-40 hits. He and his wife Janeen Damian wrote the script. Janeen is herself a classical dancer, having studied at the Balanchine School of America Ballet in New York. She says that the film reflects her own life story: small-town girl from America’s Midwest goes to NYC to become a successful ballet dancer. Lead actress Keenan Kampa began her career in the U.S. and then was invited to study at the world-famous Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. She is the first American ballet dancer to be invited to join the Mariinsky Theatre, also in St. Petersburg. Nicholas Galitzine’s talents as singer, composer and musician provided him with enough experience to play a believable violinist. Michael Damian assembled more than 60 skilled dancers around the world, many of them from the Bucharest National Opera Ballet. Scenes were shot at the conservatory in Bucharest, as well as in other parts of Romania and New York. Composer Nathan Lanier was responsible for the music of which there are 13 originals songs which carry the film. Lanier studied violin since the age of four, and also plays the viola, the piano and the guitar.  (Becky Tan)

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