This autumn we're planning a return to stage and screen, giving Gene Kelly’s ballet a new twist for its UK premiere.

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.  Dancing the lead role of Aphrodite was the ‘Étoile’ of Paris, 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 is now being given a new set of wings for its UK premiere.

In collaboration with Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, SB 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.

Claude Bessy and the dancers of Paris Opera Ballet rehearsing Pas de Dieux with Gene Kelly. Photo by Jack Garofalo.

Set within the glamour of Paris in 1960, Starstruck recreates a world where jazz meets ballet, gods masquerade as mortals, and the stars align. Set to Gershwin’s effortlessly cool Concerto in F, with extracts from Chopin; Starstruck is exactly the evening of entertainment audiences have been longing for.

It is hoped that Starstruck will mark our 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 us winning the prestigious ‘Best Dance Film’ for our first feature film The Secret Theatre at the National Dance Awards on Sunday. 

Aphrodite/The Star Ballerina Night Outfit sketch by Lez Brotherston.

Alongside the announcement of Starstruck, we've launched our ‘Fit for the Gods’ Costume Appeal, asking you to help us bring the ballet to life. Your donations will help 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, your support is vital to help us return to touring.

‘Gene Kelly’s pioneering choreography and much-loved style influenced a generation of dance-makers, and we honour his creative legacy with this playful new production. We are very proud of the distinctive dance films we have made over the last few years, and look forward to adding this to our canon.’

Christopher Hampson, CEO/Artistic Director

‘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.’

Patricia Ward Kelly

‘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.’

Lez Brotherston, Designer of Starstruck