Get ready to watch the stars of Britain’s Got Talent in 3D… no not Susan Boyle… Diversity & George Sampson… We interview the cast of the new dance movie…

American dance movies have become a craze at the box office, ‘You Got Served’, ‘Stomp The Yard’, ‘Step Up’ (and its three sequels) have all earned millions at the box office. Now the UK are getting in on the act with ‘Street Dance 3D’, it also has the distinction of being the first UK movie to be filmed in 3D.

The story follows the exploits of a London dance crew training for the UK Street Dance Championships, who are forced to work with ballet dancers from the Royal Dance School in return for rehearsal space. With no common ground and with passions riding high, they realise they need to find a way to join forces to win.

It stars talent like Nichola Burley ( Love & Hate, Donkey Punch) and Richard Winsor (Dorian Grey at Saddler’s Wells, Edward Scissorhands at Saddlers Wells) plus dance sensations Diversity, winners of Britain’s Got Talent 2009 and George Sampson who won the show in 2008.

Brogen Hayes met up with the stars of the movie on a recent visit to Dublin….

What drew you to a 3D dance movie?

Richard Winsor: For me, it was the draw of playing the romantic lead role, and also bringing British dance to the big screen, it is the first time it has really been done. It was a privilege to be involved in that… There is a lot going on in British dance at the moment, helped by George and Flawless and Diversity. Bringing it to the big screen was a really exciting project.

Nicola Burley: I always watched dance films and was amazed. I always wanted to do something with dance and acting and never thought I would get a chance. There are all these girls like ‘Honey’ and these amazing people. I would be like “I know I could do it if I got an opportunity”, but I never thought it would arise, so once I got it, I just wasn’t letting it go for anything.

George Sampson : it was just the fact that it was the first British street dance movie and I felt like I had worked so hard up until then I felt like I needed to be involved. I needed to show what I was capable of doing. That’s what drew me, when I got asked I was like ‘Yeah definitely”.

George, when you auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent, did you ever dream that you would be in a movie like this?

GS: Not in a million years. I look back now – after two years – to me busking on the street, trying to earn money to go to dance lessons. If someone had said to me then “In two years I can see you doing a 3D, British dance movie” I would have said “You’re chatting rubbish” [laughs]


Could you identify with your characters and the struggles they go through in the movie?

RW: Absolutely. When you are training to do something, or you have an aspiration to do something, there are always going to be knockbacks and setbacks, but you have to keep driving, keep trying and you have got to be flexible as well. My character Thomas… As soon as this new dance form comes in, he gets knocked off his pedestal and he has to re-evaluate what he is about, then in doing that he forms this respect for street dance. I think I really related to it from my part of the profession.

NB: I think I am as determined and focussed as Carly is, but I think, what Carly is doing in her life now – going about finding who she is – I feel like I did that when I was sixteen. In a way it was like reflecting back on what I felt like during different experiences. Her determination and focus I can definitely relate to.

GS: I am Eddie really. There is not much difference… Laid back, cheeky… When everyone is feeling down he’ll just say something stupid and everyone will respect that because that is what he is there to do. Everyone knows an Eddie really, a little cheeky chap! He is definitely relatable.

You all have different levels of experience in dance, what was the training for the film like?

RW: It was full on. Ballet-wise, I really needed to get my technique back because I hadn’t done classical ballet in years. I had never done it professionally so it was a real challenge to look like a third year ballet student. It was more the street dance for me and Nichola. We had two weeks to…

NB: …Two weeks to get a grip!

[All laugh]

RW: Two weeks to get over the fact that you’ve got to do this, then we had four weeks to nail the styles. We were pushed really hard.

NB: It was really hard. I think we all put pressure on ourselves because we all had a challenge, which was the opposite to what we did naturally. It was exciting; it was never like “we can’t do it”. We knew we were going to do it. It was just the process to get there.

GS: It was all freestyle for me; it was what I did best. I did have a bit of training because I wanted to show I was progressing – dance is so competitive, people are always judging you, so you have to constantly train hard. That way you are a little bit better every time someone sees you. I was training before the movie, so I could be better during the movie.

Did you have any input into the choreography?

NB: I didn’t!

RW: No we did! Things like, say, the rooftop scene, we worked quite closely with a couple of choreographers – Kate Prince and Will Tucket – for a lot of the lifts. I brought quite a lot of ideas from a more contemporary background into it. We worked closely together – what felt good, what felt comfortable. Also on the night, when we were doing the shoot. Getting into the space – we hadn’t had the space until that night and it was this amazing, beautiful space with all these iron girders. We thought “Right, let’s revaluate it and rework it and go back to the beginning”. Doing that made it feel really spontaneous and natural and sweet and romantic without having to try and make it that – that can make it look a little bit cheesy. A lot of that was both of our input on that night. Wasn’t it?

Nichola laughs

RW: Come on… it was!

NB: I did the thing on the ladders!

GS: My stuff is all my sort of thing – I didn’t do much dancing until the end and that one set was all my choreography. I had the whole set really.

What was your favourite part to film?

NB: I think mine was dancing in the rain. I had never used a rain machine. People were really annoyed because it was like, 11 at night, and they were getting wet. I absolutely loved it. It was so heavy, the rain, it was amazing. I just wanted to see how it would work and they wouldn’t show us in advance, all we could see was that the floor was drenched and people stood really far away with umbrellas.

GS: My favourite bit was the café scene – it was just fun – playing with food. That day was quite short and that was the first day I met Frank [Harper] and Frank’s a lovely guy – he plays Carly’s father – and we just had a really fun day.

RW: I think I liked the rooftop scene because it was just such a challenge to do on the night and it was a nice thing to capture on that evening – the spontaneity of it. Also, I think the craziest one for me was stripping off in front of Flawless. A couple of takes in they said “let’s try it with your tops off”. It was one thing dancing in front of Flawless – who are so completely tight and amazing – doing ballet, but also half naked. It was a bit of a weird experience. It was fun. It comes across in the right humour in the film.

Nichola, you mentioned Honey earlier, how does it feel to be playing a similar character that can be seen as a role model?

NB: Amazing, if that’s what people think! I still really separate Carly and me and the film and me. I am still who I have always been, so it’s really strange to think that people think she’s a role model. It’s amazing and it’s a bonus to what we have done. It’s still strange, everyone’s reactions.

Richard, you are a classically trained dancer, what made you want to get into acting?

RW: I went into the classical training, wanting to be an actor – weirdly. I have always loved acting. I have always loved dance as well but it was more to get a really strong discipline, a really strong training and move in from there I found the perfect company and the perfect choreographer and they took me on. Matthew Bourne really joins the two together – the characters that I have developed with him; Dorian Grey and Edward Scissorhands, I have always approached it like an actor, that is how I go about it. So bringing acting and dancing together in film was the perfect step for me.

What do you hope audiences will take from the film?

NB: I hope they will be inspired and people who might love dance but can’t because they are self conscious – I think they should go and do it, definitely. I think it’s positive, I think it will encourage people to not pre-judge other people, forget about stereotypes and really encourage them to go and do something, even if it isn’t dance.

RW: It’s not about angry youths on London’s streets, it’s about people with real aspirations and real talent that just have real drive. I think a film like this is really breaking those stereotypes down.

GS: I just want people to watch it and go “They did that good!”

Words – Brogen Hayes

STREET DANCE 3D opens in Irish cinemas on May 21st