Q&A Interview with Juliet Doherty, the lead actress and dancer “Barlow” in HIGH STRUNG FREE DANCE; the romantic dance movie and sequel to High Strung described as “the new Center Stage” (Nicole Pajer, Parade).
HIGH STRUNG FREE DANCE tells the story of Zander Raines (Thomas Doherty), a dazzling and tempestuous young choreographer who gives the break of a lifetime to two hopeful artists when he casts a stunning contemporary dancer, Barlow (Juliet Doherty) and innovative pianist, Charlie (Harry Jarvis) in New York’s most-anticipated new Broadway show: Free Dance. But the move throws off the show’s delicate creative balance when Charlie falls hard for Barlow while Zander embraces her as his muse. The film brings together ground-breaking original music with an expansive mix of choreography from Emmy award winner Tyce Diorio (So You Think You Can Dance) alongside 80 of the world’s most thrilling and original dancers.
Joanna: The dancing was phenomenal. Being a ballerina as well as an actress, were there any parts that you didn’t dance yourself? Also, was this your first time having to dance for a camera instead of a live audience?
Juliet Doherty: Thank you! I danced every bit of it myself – same with everyone else in the cast! No one had dance doubles.
I’ve spent most of my life split between on stage and on camera work. Making a feature film is an entirely different animal but I started dancing on camera in children’s music videos when I was about 8.
Part of #MeToo is when subordinates are put in a position where their boss asks them out, or kisses them, and it puts their job in jeopardy. But when Xander kissed you, it seemed consensual and like you were really into him. First, were you? And second, do you think your character was thinking about risking her job entirely if she ended up dating him?
Juliet: My character, Barlow, definitely has genuine feelings towards Xander. I think she is just learning how to navigate working with someone she also has feelings for. It’s tricky!
Did you feel like your character was genuinely into Xander at first or was never really into him?
Juliet: Barlow is definitely charmed by Xander. I think with her naiveté and lack of experience in the world of show business, she gets roped into more than she expected.
Did anyone or anything inspire you and your character for this role?
Juliet: I have actually had a somewhat paralleling reality! Just like my on-screen mom was my dance teacher, I grew up with my mom as my dance teacher in real life. I was able to connect with my character deeply in my scenes with Jane Seymour because of this commonality.
Do you think there’s a chance that the dance scenes might become a real musical?
Juliet: I’ve heard rumors, but so far just that!
What was the hardest part of doing this movie?
Juliet: Filming the final dance sequence was very intense! 15 minutes of choreography we learned and rehearsed for about 3 weeks leading up to shooting. We broke filming this scene up into 3 days. Each day was 12+ hours on set. There were a lot of special shots and detailed setups our director Michael Damian and writer Janeen Damian, wanted to capture.
What was your favorite part of doing this movie?
Juliet: My favorite part of working on this film was being able to be surrounded by so much inspiration each day. The talent just flowed out of everyone so effortlessly, it was endless creativity and artistry.
Thank you for the interview!