High Strung Free Dance (2020)

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The dreams of three young people come to life in this bumpy ride that leads to a feel good extravaganza in this film from Michael Damian.

For aspiring dancer Barlow and pianist Charlie, New York City is the land of opportunity. Barlow is the protégé of her mother Oksana, a one time dancer who has become a teacher since. As for Charlie, he finds himself delivering bagels and croissants to an elderly woman who is afraid to communicate in person, but yet she finds herself impressed with Charlie’s playing. When Barlow tries out for major Broadway play entitled Free Dance, she finds herself selected by choreographer Zander Raines, who is renowed and hopes this make this his biggest production yet.

By fate, Zander and Barlow accidentally hit Charlie, who was en route to a temp job at a local juke joint. Barlow, impressed with his playing, convinces Zander to give Charlie a shot when Zander loses his pianist. Charlie nails the audition and all three find their dreams slowly coming true. However, things begins to get complicated when a love triangle slowly begins to occur between the trio. To make matters worse, when Barlow is given the opportunity of a lifetime only to have it taken away from her, she must rely on the one person she never expected as well. As for Charlie, he learns some new techniques on the piano. With opening night looming, will these three finally realize their dreams, or will everything gets shattered?

A story about dreams and the obstacles going through the motions to achieve those dreams are quite a fascinating thing to watch and this film, co-written, co-produced, and directed by Michael Damian, is a wonderful film that tells the story of three young people in New York, hoping to live their dreams. While Thomas Doherty’s Zander is already renowned, it is very inspiring to see Juliet Doherty (no relations)’s and Harry Jarvis’ characters of Barlow and Charlie attempt to achieve their dream and the struggles they must endure to make their dreams come true.

As Zander, Thomas Doherty, who will be most likely known Stateside as Harry Hook in Disney’s Descendants franchise, is great as we see him seem like the egotistical type who finds himself impressed with aspiring dancer Barlow and eventually, pianist Charlie, and thus giving him a sense of calmness during spots here and there. Of course, with these three, it may seem a bit on the predictable side that they may be setting themselves up for a love triangle and that’s exactly what happens. We see Zander and Barlow having a romance, but it’s clear Charlie has feelings for Barlow as well. However, despite the burst of romance, Zander seems to be the type who is more into his dream and we see him in anger mode when things don’t go right, making him seem like a jerk. However, one can’t exaclty blame him for his actions. He just wants his work to go right.

Most of the focus of the film goes to the more aspiring Barlow and Charlie, because they have to go through a lot more to achieve theire dreams. Barlow struggles with being evicted due to a very bad roommate, losing out to auditions, finding herself at a dead-end job, and being forced to confront her mother, who expects her to live her own dream through her. However, as Barlow gets her shot, we see a more happier Barlow as she makes new friends who get her a place to stay, earning respect from her mother, and even finding herself a new romance.

As for Charlie, he is seen in the opening credits playing the piano, but it’s revealed that we’re not at his place, but the home of a customer who is enthralled with music but is scared to reveal herself. However, much like Charlie, the elderly woman does have a dream to be able to communicate in person and it takes Charlie’s music playing to do just that and it is she who inspires Charlie to go all out when the script calls for it. And because Charlie harbors feelings for Barlow, he can’t help but do what it takes for her to be happy when she is at her lowest due to complications within the show. It’s sometimes hard to root for certain people in this film and despite some egos within characters, ultimately, you will want to root for the show to be a success.

High Strung Free Dance is a wonderful dance film about the aspirations of three talented people in one of the lands of opportunity, New York City. Thomas Doherty, Juliet Doherty, and Harry Jarvis all churn excellent performances in this film about struggle and the will to make dreams come true.

WFG RATING: A-

GVN Releasing presents a Riviera Films production. Director: Michael Damian. Producers: Michael Damian and Janeen Damian. Writers: Michael Damian and Janeen Damian. Cinematography: Vidrel Sergovici. Editing: William Honeyball.

Cast: Thomas Doherty, Harry Jarvis, Juliet Doherty, Desmond Richardson, Jane Seymour, Ace Bhatti, Jorgen Makena, Kika Markham, Manuel Pacific, Sophie Tyler.

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