A passion is something that makes you feel alive, fills you with joy, and is worth the dedication, perseverance, and relentless effort. “High Strung,” a 2016 film directed by Michael Damian, perfectly defines “passion” and demonstrates it through the tale of three separate passions fusing as one.
The film starts with Ruby Adams (played by actress and ballerina Keenan Kampa) arriving in New York City to attend the Manhattan Conservatory of the Arts on a full scholarship. In the city, she meets Johnnie Blackwell (Nicholas Galitzine), a British violinist with a bad-boy attitude who lives upstairs from The SwitchSteps, a hip-hop crew featuring “So You Think You Can Dance” all-star Comfort Fedoke as PopTart.
After realizing how well their passions fit together, Ruby, Johnnie, and The SwitchSteps decide to enter the Peterson Foundation String and Dance Competition. If they win, the hip-hop crew will be recognized for their talent and the skill their dance style requires, Johnnie will receive a scholarship to the Manhattan Conservatory of the Arts, which will resolve his U.S. citizenship issues and free him from financial stress, while Ruby can explore her potential and test her creative side.
All of the characters’ emotions are easily understood, and connecting with each individual is easy, which makes the movie enjoyable. The plot is familiar, but the overall vibe is unique and creative. These talented and committed characters form relationships with each other as they chase their dreams and devote everything to their passion.
This movie can be appreciated by anyone with a musical inclination or a knack for the creative, expressive arts. However, this inspiring film is not limited to “artsy” people. Anyone who has a passion in life will enjoy it.
Singer, actor, and director Michael Damian has been involved with many successes in the past, including “Marley & Me” and “Flicka.” “High Strung” is no exception.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.