Scottish Ballet Presents a New Take on Gene Kelly’s Ballet for UK Premiere

Back in 1960, film star and dancer extraordinaire Gene Kelly, who was one of the first choreographers to bring the ‘American style’ to Europe, was invited to create an original work for the Paris Opera Ballet

Dancing the lead role of Aphrodite was French ballet master, Claude Bessy, who had worked with Kelly in Hollywood and encouraged him across the Atlantic. His jazzy, joyful Pas de Dieux was highly acclaimed at the time as ‘a breath of fresh air’ and this autumn, Scottish Ballet plans a return to stage and screen with Kelly’s ballet, giving it a new twist for its UK premiere.

In collaboration with Kelly’s widow Patricia Ward Kelly, Scottish Ballet’s CEO/Artistic Director Christopher Hampson and designer Lez Brotherston have lovingly revived the original ballet, renaming it Starstruck.

Patricia Ward Kelly said, “It took over two decades for me to find the right home for Gene’s ballet, but I am certain now that it is in the right place and in the right hands… Gene would be very proud.”

Set within the glamour of Paris in 1960, Starstruck recreates a world where jazz meets ballet, gods masquerade as mortals, and the stars align. The piece is accompanied by Gershwin’s Concerto in F, with extracts from Chopin.

Starstruck should mark Scottish Ballet’s long-awaited return to the stage, with an autumn tour of Scotland planned, subject to venues being able to reopen to significant capacity. The production is also being created as a new feature-length film, with tickets available to the public later this year.

The news of this new film comes hot on the heels of Scottish Ballet winning the prestigious ‘Best Dance Film’ at the National Dance Awards for its first feature film The Secret Theatre at Sunday’s awards. The Secret Theatre was released in December 2020 and watched by 55,000 people over three days.

Alongside the announcement of Starstruck, Scottish Ballet has launched a ‘Fit for the Gods’ Costume Appeal, asking the public to help bring the ballet to life. Donations will support the creation of nearly 100 stunning new costumes, reimagined by Tony and Olivier award-winning Designer Lez Brotherston. The glorious sixties Parisian designs will add lustre to Kelly’s energetic choreography, and the mischievous adventures of Aphrodite and Eros. After a year and a half without box office income, this public support is vital to help the company return to touring.

Lez Brotherston, designer of Starstruck, said, “It’s a simple story that we aim to tell in a sophisticated way. I hope it will be a great event to get people back into the theatre and remind them of the fun of being there.”

Irene Brown

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