If you don’t know her already, 21-year-old Juliet Doherty is a ballet phenomenon...and a contemporary phenomenon...and a lyrical phenomenon. Oh, and she can act, too. You know what, it’s safe to say that she’s an all-around superstar. Juliet has toured the world playing the coveted role of Clara alongside the renowned Radio City Rockettes in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, as well as originated the role of Ondine Gigot in the Broadway musical Little Dancer. She has also taken home gold medals at the biggest dance competition in the world, the Youth America Grand Prix International Finals, in both 2012 and 2014. Now, Juliet’s career is truly starting to take flight. With a massive following of 350K on Instagram, Juliet was cast to star in a new film called High Strung: Free Dance(directed by Michael Damian and produced by Damian and his wife Janeen), the second movie in the franchise. Carrie’s Chroniclesrecently sponsored a VIP sneak peek screening of the movie, and many cast members, including Juliet, were in attendance, seeing the movie for the first time. At the after party (filled with sweet treats from Georgetown Cupcake), I was thrilled to be able to talk to Juliet about her journey to the top, and what the process was like to create such a flawless film.
Juliet Doherty and her co-star, Thomas Doherty (note that they are not related), in High Strung: Free Dance
Carrie: Let me start off by saying that you were absolutely incredible in High Strung: Free Dance. Your dancing was exquisite and your acting was natural and beautiful—I can’t wait for the rest of the world to see the film. How did you get your start in dance?
Juliet: Well, my great-grandparents started a school in New Mexico in 1945, so dance has been passed through the generations in my family. I've pretty much been dancing since I was born. My mom was my teacher until I was 14, and then I continued pursuing my career in San Francisco. I went to school there for a few years, and then went on to pursue a professional career. But I started because my family were all dancers.
Carrie: Do you have a favorite dance style?
Juliet: My favorite style is definitely ballet. I love classical ballet. I admire the training and the structure around it, and I’ve always felt very connected to the music. But anytime I get the chance to do jazz or contemporary, I also feel very at home in those styles. I think that’s mostly because my mom always instilled in me this idea of being a very well-rounded dancer. Also, those are her favorite styles, so she would always encourage me to try them. Now it’s like they’ve become a part of me.
Carrie: I am so inspired by all of your hard work to reach the place you are in now. I mean, you’re starting in a movie doing something you love! How did it feel to see yourself on the screen for the first time tonight?
Juliet: Well, my heart was beating the entire time I was watching the film. I was anxious, I was excited, and I was nervous. Watching it all come together on the big screen, and I was like, "Oh, how did I do? I kind of forgot this scene," and just questioning everything. But right now, I feel so happy. The response so far has been that everyone is loving the story and excited about the dancing, and I feel the same way.
Carrie: What was the audition process like?
Juliet: My agent sent me this self-tape the night before they were closing up casting for the film. Apparently they had been looking for a few months, and the next day was the deadline. So, I taped a scene from the movie that was supposed to be read with my mom in the film. I taped it with my actual mom, because she was there in the studio, and then I learned a piece of choreography. It was a contemporary piece...I think Tyce [Diorio] choreographed it. I did this all very last-minute in a studio at night after a long day of rehearsals and training, and then I sent the videos in. A couple days later, I got a call that the [creative team] wanted to do a Skype audition. They were interested in seeing more from me. I got on Skype with them, and they said they wanted me to meet me in person. I went to their home in Las Vegas and met both [writers of the movie,] Janeen and Michael [Damian]. We read some scenes and got to know each other a little bit better, and when I was at the airport flying back home, they told me that I got the part. I never imagined that it would even amount to this. This whole experience is really cool.
Carrie: It must have been amazing to work with Tyce Diorio as well, since he has choreographed for so many legends like Taylor Swift, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Jennifer Lopez.
Juliet: Oh, yeah. I've been watching him on TV since I don't even know what age. When I heard that he was gonna be a part of this project, I was so excited. A dancer's dream is to collaborate with a choreographer whose work makes you feel something inside. It feels surreal.
Carrie: I can imagine. So, what message do you hope that people will take away from the movie?
Juliet: When you're born to be an artist, you surrender yourself to lots of emotions, and you really have to be open to feeling everything, whether it be the good or the bad, because it's just part of creating the art. I think that's the main takeaway for anybody that sees this film. In order to make your dreams come true, you have to be open to accepting everything, whether it be good or bad.
Carrie: For sure. Any advice for young women or men who want to become dancers?
Juliet: Be open to accepting everything that comes along with putting yourself on the line as an artist. Hear everyone’s opinions, but then also know your own value and your self-worth, and never feel like you're not good enough. I think I wasted a few years of my training coming from this mentality where I was always looking to the dancer next to me and comparing myself. I wondered if I was good enough to even be there in front of a choreographer or in front of an audience member. But it's important to know that you are special and unique. Even though you’re different from the person next to you, you’re good enough to go wherever you want to go. I think that's a very valuable place to train from, think from, and perform from, rather than always second-guessing yourself. So, don't question dance. Just put yourself out there and take whatever feedback comes. You'll learn a lot more that way.
Carrie: So what’s up next for you?
Juliet: Right now I'm developing a new musical at Lincoln Center with the New York City Ballet. We’re going to present it to investors, but we don’t know if it’s going to become anything big yet. Also, I'm probably filming another movie this summer, more of a dark thriller story. I'm excited to delve into that character. I can't give too much away about that, but I know that my character has a fear of the water, and I also have a fear of the water naturally, so I don't think it'll be too hard to tap into that.
Carrie: I can’t wait to see it! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me, Juliet. You clearly have a very bright future ahead of you.
Thomas Doherty and Juliet Doherty at a photo shoot for High Strung: Free Dance
Juliet on the set of High Strung: Free Dance
Juliet practicing a lift for High Strung: Free Dance
Juliet with Tyce Diorio (left)
Juliet on set with co-star Harry Jarvis
Juliet and Me at a VIP Sneak Peek Screening of High Strung: Free Dance