Gene Kelly’s pioneering choreography and much-loved style influenced a generation of directors and dance-makers in Hollywood, Broadway and beyond, and we honour his creative legacy with this playful film.
One of the first choreographers to bring the ‘American style’ to Europe, the legendary Gene Kelly was invited to create an original work for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1960. His jazzy, joyful Pas de Dieux was highly acclaimed at the time as ‘a breath of fresh air’ but has been rarely performed since. It was given a new set of wings for its UK stage debut and world premiere on screen.
In collaboration with Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, Scottish Ballet’s CEO/Artistic Director Christopher Hampson and designer Lez Brotherston (The Snow Queen, The Secret Theatre) have lovingly revived the original ballet and added a delightful new twist. You’ll be transported into the world where jazz meets ballet, and the stars align.
Combining live performance capture with cinematic filming techniques and additional elements not seen in the stage production, Starstruck is directed for screen by Oscar Sansom (Dive), in partnership with Forest of Black (The Secret Theatre).
Set to Gershwin’s effortlessly cool Concerto in F, with extracts from Chopin.
Starstruck was awarded Best Dance Film at the 2022 Critic’s Circle National Dance Awards.
Last performed: Starstruck was released as a feature-length film in 2021.
Scottish Ballet premiere: November 2021 (World Premiere)
Director: Oscar Sansom
Director of Photography: David Liddell
Produced in association with Forest of Black
Original Choreography & Direction for Pas de Dieux: Gene Kelly
Additional Choreography & Scenario: Christopher Hampson
Design & Additional Scenario: Lez Brotherston OBE
Artistic Collaborator: Patricia Ward Kelly
Lighting Designer: Lawrie McLennan
Music: George Gershwin & Frédéric Chopin
With grateful thanks to the André François Estate, for their kind permission to reference the original Pas de Dieux set and costume designs in this new production. © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2021
Prologue – The Warm-Up
The Choreographer enters the studio. He flicks on the lights, sits down next to a piano, and begins preparing his new ballet. Simple steps turn into choreography, and he begins imagining what this new ballet could become.
The Pianist arrives for the company’s warm-up. He mischievously mimics the choreographer’s musings as the dancers arrive and class begins. However, the hard work is interrupted as everyone’s attention turns to the arrival of the Star Ballerina.
Act 1 – The Rehearsal
Scene 1 – The Clouds of Mount Olympus
The rehearsal begins – the Star Ballerina playing the role of Aphrodite, who, having grown tired of her life in the clouds of Mount Olympus and her marriage to Zeus (played by the Choreographer), spends her days longing for freedom, spying on the mortals below and imagining what fun they must be having. Unable to resist temptation, she and her trusty friend Eros fly to sunny France together to wreak a little havoc.
Scene 2 – A Beach in the South of France
Down on earth, a handsome Lifeguard lives blissfully by the sea with his Fiancée until Eros shoots his celestial arrow at the pair and whisks her away, leaving the Lifeguard under Aphrodite’s spell.
Zeus discovers that Aphrodite is missing and sends down a thunderous warning, which she ignores.
Act 2 – The Interruption
As the couples lay resting, Zeus awakens the Lifeguard and his Fiancée and reunites them. Aphrodite wakes to find herself alone. She suspects Zeus has had a hand in the Lifeguard’s disappearance and begins to plan her playful revenge.
The story, however, stalls as the rehearsal is interrupted by the Choreographer giving his notes to the dancers playing the young lovers. The Star Ballerina finds herself being ignored, not unlike Aphrodite in the ballet they are rehearsing. She strikes up a flirtation with a stagehand, sure to get back the attention of the Choreographer – and it works, in fact, it works so well that a fight ensues, and the Choreographer wins back the affections of the Star Ballerina. They dance a duet which in turn becomes the reconciliation of their on-stage characters, Zeus and Aphrodite.
Act 3 – The Premiere
Reunited, both on and off the stage, the Star Ballerina and the Choreographer transport us to the premiere of the new ballet at the Paris Opéra where the whole company join in a dazzling finale ending with rapturous curtain calls for all.
As the dancers disperse, the Star Ballerina and the Choreographer walk away hand in hand, glancing back to an empty stage where all the magic has happened and to where it will one day return.