A review of High Strung (2016). This movie brings together dance and strings.
Choreographed by Dave Scott
Directed by Michael Damian
Staring Keenan Kampa and Nicholas Galitzine
There was a unique combination of the classic moments you expect to see in dance movies and some new things that made for an actually interesting and entertaining movie.
First I will start by saying that by the end of watching this movie I liked it. It was fun and actually different then other dance movies. There was a unique combination of the classic moments you expect to see in dance movies and some new things that made for an actually interesting and entertaining movie.
The dance sequences are well done and interesting.
High strung started out with a shirtless guy sitting on his bed playing violin....like you do. My first reaction was : "this is definitely a chick flick". It was Twilight for dancers. The main male character is brooding, rude, and not very likable at first. The female lead is likable and easy to root for, which was nice. As I watched, it grew on me. The character development makes for interesting and layered character personalities. The dance sequences are well done and interesting. As someone who has seen a lot of dance in my life it's easy for me to get bored with routines that don't introduce something new and different. Most of the time the routines in this film did not disappoint. They had depth and emotion and were fun and entertaining.
The story is about a dancer, Ruby and a Violin player, Johnnie. Ruby is a Ballet dancer that goes to The Manhattan Conservatory of the Arts on a scholarship. Johnnie is a violin player who, as talented as he is, prefers the freedom of performing in the New York City subway. They have a chance encounter that creates the beginning of their story through music and dance. You find out more about why Johnnie only plays in the subway and it definitely adds an interesting dynamic to the story. You witness the struggles Ruby encounters as she trains at a very prestigious school and finds a new part of herself as a person and dancer. There are a lot of likable characters that bring more flavor to the story in the form of musicians, dancers, and teachers.
It features all kinds of dance and there is no competition between styles.
Once I got into the movie I actually found it very refreshing. It features all kinds of dance and there is no competition between styles. In so many other dance movies there is this idea that one is better then the other. In High Strung everyone respected each others dance styles. That was really nice to see and made for fun dance sequences that included ballet, hip hop, contemporary, Irish, and tap. All the dancers are spectacular. Very well casted with dancers that can actually do some acting. Maybe not Oscar worthy but good enough to carry the story and make you feel something for these characters. The music is great as well. Considering that High Strung is about dance and music, with the hip hop dancers creating their own beats and the male lead playing violin, and of course the classical music that comes with ballet, I was not disappointed.
Another nice thing about this movie is that the teachers at the conservatory are good teachers. No snobby, mean ballet teacher with the free spirited contemporary teacher really helping the lead character. The teachers seemed real. They depict the ballet teacher as disciplined and he expects a lot from his students but he also is kind and caring for them. He seems like he actually enjoys teaching ballet. The Contemporary teacher, played by Jane Seymour, is much more of a hard ass but still pushes from the care of a teacher, pulling out the best of her students.
This film still has the dance movie cheese with a few new elements that make it very enjoyable.
This film still has the dance movie cheese with a few new elements that make it very enjoyable. There was a mix of many other dance movies floating around in the story. Parts that reminder me of Step Up, Center Stage, and even Dirty Dancing.
All in all I recommend this movie. It was fun, entertaining, and a new twist on the usual.
There is a sequel called, High Strung: Free Dance, that I hope to watch soon.
I watched High Strung through Hulu and I believe the sequel is on Netflix, as of now.
If you decide to watch it or if you've watched it already I'd love to hear your opinion in the comments!