Opera ballet

Gene Kelly’s Legendary 1960 Paris Opera Ballet Becomes Spectacular New Film

Starstruck, a festive reimagining of the choreographic work of great American actor/dancer Gene Kelly in the form of a stunning new feature film, is released worldwide this week. In 1960, Gene Kelly was invited to create an original work for the Paris Opera Ballet. This was the first commission of an original work by an American from the famous French artistic institution. Its jazzy, joyful no gods featuring the best French ballerina, Claude Bessy, was highly appreciated. Following his success, Gene Kelly was awarded the prestigious title, Knight of the Legion of Honour, of the French government but the ballet has rarely been performed since. Perhaps that’s why most modern audiences don’t know that Gene Kelly created ballet for the stage.

Thanks to a chance encounter between Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet’s artistic director, and Patricia Ward Kelly, Gene Kelly’s widow, the ballet was re-enacted and filmed as Starstruck for the arts broadcasting service Marquee TV. The ballet was performed by Scottish Ballet to live audiences this fall and this week Starstruck the film received its world premiere.

Starstruck was inspired by Kelly’s legendary work in Hollywood and in this immersive theatrical experience, audiences around the world can escape to the glamor and grace of 1960s France from the comfort of their own homes. Set to the captivating Gershwin Concerto in Fwith extracts from Chopin, Starstruck offers an uplifting evening of entertainment, ideal for these troubling times.

Kelly’s pioneering choreography and much-loved style influenced a generation of directors and dance makers in Hollywood, Broadway and beyond. In collaboration with Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, Scottish Ballet CEO/Artistic Director Christopher Hampson and designer Lez Brotherston (Snow Queen, The secret theater) have wisely revived the original ballet and added a delightful new twist. Directed for the screen by Oscar Sansom (Dive), in partnership with Forest of Black (The secret theater), Starstruck brilliantly captures the live performance of the Scottish Ballet, using cinematic filming techniques inspired by Hollywood’s Golden Age. The film also includes additional scenes not seen in the stage production.

by Gene Kelly no godsthe base of Starstruck, tells the story of the gods Aphrodite and Eros, who after descending to earth and landing on a sunny beach in the south of France, seduce a rescuer and his fiancée. The couples enjoy their new found love until Aphrodite’s husband Zeus arrives to win his fickle wife back and everything is back to normal. This story was easy enough to follow, but since there are no filmed sequences of no gods, Christopher Hampson and Patricia Ward Kelly painstakingly reconstructed the ballet by deciphering Kelly’s scribbled annotations on George Gershwin’s score and sifting through hundreds of old rehearsal photographs. The result of their efforts is a beautiful, energetic and fun piece, a wonderful fusion of jazz and classical ballet and a great homage to Gene Kelly’s original work.

Starstruck is presented by Marquee TV in partnership with Scottish Ballet and is available from November 26 to December 5, 2021 via Marquee TV: www.marquee.tv

From December 17, the film can be viewed as part of a Marquee TV subscription (£8.99/month or £62.99 per year).