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Actors Nick Galitzine and Keenan Kampa are High Strung

Apr 05, 2016

By: Lynn Barker

In High Strung, it doesn’t matter if you are majorly talented in artistically competitive New York City. The competition with others and your own inner demons can kill you. Falling in love just complicates matters.

Falling in loveFalling in loveCourtesy of Riviera Films

Playing talented dancer Ruby Adams and street musician Johnnie Blackwell are Keenan Kampa and Nicolas Galitzine. Keenan is an amazing prima ballerina turned actress. She was the first American to be signed with the prestigious Mariinsky (formerly Kirov) Russian ballet company but caught the acting bug and is now living in L.A.  Nick is a former model and rugby player whose musical and acting star is on the rise.

Practicing the tangoPracticing the tangoCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld talked with the duo via phone from NYC and found them to be very funny, energetic and excited about being in a dance/romance film that blends classical, hip-hop and other styles in an entertaining mash-up. Both were impressed with the dancers who play crews and tell us about pranks on set, their awkward first meeting, working with Dave Scott (Step Up 3DStomp the Yard, resident choreographer on “So You Think You Can Dance”, guest choreographer on “Dancing with the Stars”) and their very surprising choices for alternate careers.

In class rehearsalIn class rehearsalCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld: Keenan, we certainly know you can dance at the level of your character and beyond but Nick, although you are a musician, how hard was it to be that convincing on violin? Your playing was totally believable.

  • Nick: Thanks! The training I had beforehand really helped. Throughout the filming I was pretty much training every day. I had a violin on set and in between takes, I’d practice that. I think my background in guitar definitely helped me. I got to a point where I could tell if it was an upstroke or downstroke on the bow. A lot of training and research helped me out with that. The bow-work was the most difficult.

Nick as Johnnie practicingNick as Johnnie practicingCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld: Both of you, how are you very much like your characters and how very different?

  • Keenan: I related a lot to my character Ruby, at least as my younger (teen) self. It was quite interesting for me to go back and touch roots with my younger self and why I first came to love ballet. That’s something you can see with Ruby. She’s in that innocent, wide-eyed, optimistic phase. You can see that she loves ballet for what it is. She is passionate about it and is not going to compromise anything for it. I think it just gets tougher as you become a professional, unfortunately. There is a lot you have to get through and experience. It toughens you but I think also you sometimes forget the real reasons why you love it just because of all the stress.
  • Nick: I don’t think I’m quite so brooding as my character Johnnie. I think I share his pure, unadulterated passion for music. I have the same passion for movies. At the end of the day I think it’s all about the arts and the rest kind of follows. Johnnie understands that you have to play the game in a sense to be commercially viable or you have to train or have the discipline. Also, he’s a bit of a loner. I don’t know that I’m that much of a loner. I like my own company but I’d rather be hanging with Keenan and everybody else.

Keenan and NickKeenan and NickCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld: Keenan, there are so many different types of dancing in the movie. Other than ballet, what was your favorite dance genre and why?

  • Nick: I think she liked that Tango she got to dance.
  • Keenan: Tango was fun but the hip hop dancers were so amazing. I looked at them and I wish I could get down like they did.
  • Nick: She’s got some pretty mean moves through. She’s got a good moonwalk and a good robot.
  • Keenan: I’ve got my moves.

Ruby and Johnnie TangoRuby and Johnnie TangoCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld: Keenan, I loved that purple dress you wear in the movie. Did you get to keep it?

  • Keenan: It was gorgeous but I actually never wear dresses. I don’t feel comfortable in a dress.
  • Nick: But that red one at the end… wow. They used a wind machine. You were like Marilyn Monroe!

The red dress in the finale performanceThe red dress in the finale performanceCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld: If you hadn’t been successful in your current careers, what do you think you might have chosen for a career?

  • Keenan: I would have been either a doctor or the first major league baseball player or a monster truck driver.
  • Nick: I was training to be a rugby player most of my life. I was in a rugby academy but I unfortunately ripped a tendon in my shoulder so I had to give it up but it’s weird. When I was really young I wanted to be an architect or something hippy, like picking oranges on a farm somewhere.

Keenan and Nick on a picnicKeenan and Nick on a picnicCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld: Nick you played a sweet, talented but nerdy character in The Beat Beneath My Feet. Were you happy that you would be playing a moody but pretty hot guy in this one?

  • Nick: Yeah but I loved The Beat Beneath My Feet because it was so interesting playing a real character role. It was so different. They gave me such a cool make-over with the glasses and all.
  • Keenan: I thought it was kind of a hot look though.
  • Nick: I think there are some parallels between the two characters but it was cool getting to play someone who is just a bit more confident with the ladies.

A nerdier Nick in The Beat Beneath My FeetA nerdier Nick in The Beat Beneath My FeetCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld: Did any of the cast know each other before filming started?

  • Nick: A lot of the dancers in the SwitchStep crew knew each other. Marcus Mitchell had worked with (choreographer) Dave Scott and Dave knew Comfort (Fedoke). The American dancers knew each other. It’s a close-knit community.
  • Keenan: The first week of rehearsal we all got dinner together, that night that Marcus came in and we all became very close very quickly.

The SwitchStep dance crewThe SwitchStep dance crewCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld: How did you two meet and get to know one another?

  • Nick: We had rehearsals. I saw her eating breakfast in the hotel.
  • Keenan: With no make-up on.
  • Nick: I wasn’t sure it was you (to Keenan). I didn’t just want to come up. I’d heard she was a big deal. I thought she might be one of those snooty dancers but no.

Kidzworld: Did the cast get to go out together for fun for dinner or anything? Especially in Romania?

  • Keenan: Nick and I were constantly on set. I went out one time and I was in by eleven.
  • Nick: I don’t think I went out really. Everybody was jealous of Richard (Southgate who plays Kyle in the film). He was shooting at the beginning of our schedule then at the end so he was practically on holiday for a week at one point, going shopping and partying.

Gangsta dance crewGangsta dance crewCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld: Who in the cast was the big jokester or prankster? What did they pull?

  • Nick: Me and Keenan started pranking people. We stole clothes from trailers and hid them and switched them. We ate people’s food.
  • Keenan: Tell them about my finger.
  • Nick: We went to Richard’s apartment and we had a ping pong ball but no paddles so we got household items. I picked out a pot. It was bring a miscellaneous item you can hit the ball with.
  • Keenan: We were in the kitchen playing ping pong. Richard and I were on the same team.
  • Nick: He shouted “mine” so it was his ball to hit. Keenan went for it and there was this huge cut put down her finger.
  • Keenan: We didn’t have Band-Aids. We wrapped my finger up with paper towels to hold the skin on, blood everywhere. Then we spent the day building forts inside. I didn’t even try to go to the hospital.
  • Nick: The next day Michael (Damian the director) called her up as a joke and said he was going to do a close-up of her hand during the tango sequence.

Keenan (Ruby) in final performanceKeenan (Ruby) in final performanceCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld: So funny. Each of you, what was your favorite scene to shoot and why?

  • Nick: Mine was definitely the violin battle (when it’s Johnnie vs. school champ Kyle). It’s such a fusion of alternate styles. Some people think classical music is uncool and not current and I think it’s interesting how they fused the hip-hop beat in. There is so much attitude between Johnnie and Kyle. It’s just such an exciting scene to shoot. We shot that until 8 o’clock in the morning.
  • Keenan: I think the end finale piece was really a great experience for everyone.
  • Nick: And we shot that at the beginning of the shoot.
  • Keenan: It’s not straight through so not as gratifying as doing a play or something.

Keenan gets her hip hop onKeenan gets her hip hop onCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld: Keenan, Ruby really takes some rejection from Nick before he lets her help him. Do you think you could stick with a guy who wasn’t very receptive at the beginning?

  • Keenan: No. I feel like first impressions are very telling. I love this quote: “If a man can’t value and see a woman and appreciate her when he first meets her, then how can you expect him to come to that?” Ruby is a saint.
  • Nick: I disagree with that. I don’t think first impressions are everything. Johnnie has a lot going. He has no family. He clearly finds it quite hard to trust people. I think he finds it hard to let people into his life. Then you see him warm up so much more when he’s around Ruby.
  • Keenan: But Ruby has the patience for that.
  • Nick: True.

Keenan as RubyKeenan as RubyCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld: Nick, gotta know what is your pet peeve on a date?  What must your date never do or they won’t get a second date?

  • Nick: I think I’m pretty chill unless someone comes off as arrogant or too into themselves or talks about themselves the whole time.
  • Keenan: Ooooh the worst.

Kidzworld: What musical artist or band are you really into right now?

  • Nick: Hall and Oates. We are old fogies about it. Also Otis Redding. They don’t make music like they used to.

Final competition performanceFinal competition performanceCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld: What is next for both of you? Nick you are in something called Handsome Devil?

  • Nick: That’s just coming to the end of editing now. That was an incredible project to be a part of. I had to fake an Irish accent. I’m just picking my next project. A great situation to be in.
  • Keenan: I have representation for acting now in L.A. and I’m living there. I’m continuing with ballet but I’m going to see how far I can go with acting without giving up ballet. I’m taking it one day at a time.

Ruby (Keenan) talks with her roommateRuby (Keenan) talks with her roommateCourtesy of Riviera Films

Kidzworld: Both of you, why do you think High Strung is a great film for tweens and teens especially?

  • Keenan: I think it’s a beautiful message for kids to relate to. It’s teaching about personal integrity and to be passionate about things.
  • Nick: I think Ruby and Johnnie are perfect examples of two personalities fused together. On one hand Johnnie’s a passionate person and it’s easy for him to let go and feel his art but he doesn’t have the discipline or drive that Ruby does. She is technically so incredible but finds it hard to get in touch with her emotions when she is dancing. She has a breakthrough when her teacher tells her to be the gypsy (find her inner gypsy).  When the two come together you get this incredible blend.

High Strung PosterHigh Strung PosterCourtesy of Riviera Films

High Strung is in theaters April 8th!


Have Your Say

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