Joanne Samuel and Jesse A’hern put on ‘The Red Shoes’

Joanne Samuel, Lauren Esposito, Jesse A'hern, and Juliet Doherty.

Directors Joanne Samuel and Jesse A’hern have commenced production in Sydney on a coming-of-age dance feature starring Juliet Doherty and Lauren Esposito.

The Red Shoes: Next Step follows dancer Sam Cavanaugh (Doherty), who is about to dance the lead in ‘The Red Shoes’ ballet when her older sister Annie, a brilliant dancer, is struck by a car while on Facetime with her.

Guilt-ridden, Sam quits the academy, returns to high school, runs wild with Eve (Esposito), and lands herself in community service, which requires her to clean studios at the academy, providing a constant reminder of the tragedy.

When Gracie, ‘The Red Shoes’ principal, is injured, Sam is pressed by her ballet teacher Ms Harlow to take over the role and dance with Ben, an old friend, long-time crush, and renowned dancer.

Supporting cast include professional ballet dancer Joel Burke, Carolyn Bock, Paris Opera Ballet dancer Primrose Kern, Meitta White, Ashleigh Ross and Nicholas Andrianankos.

Written by Zachary Layner, John Banas, and Peter McLeod, The Red Shoes: Next Step reunites Samuel and A’hern following The Legend of the Five, which the former directed and the latter produced.

A’hern produces The Red Shoes with Tanya Esposito, who is also an executive producer.

The team is joined by director of photography Kent Marcus and choreographer Daniel Gaudiello, with shooting to take place at a range of locations in and around Sydney.

In a statement, the directors said the film was designed to delve into the strength of the bond between dance families and friends.

“We aim to produce a world within The Red Shoes that feels grounded in reality, showing, on one hand, the challenges, stress, and pain that comes with ballet, but on the other the freedom, love, and acceptance that can also be found through dance”,” they said.

Esposito said the film was coming at a time when there was a “void of dance-centred films aimed at a younger audience”.

“The film will also appeal to a wider demographic who will appreciate the complexities of our professionally choreographed dance scenes,” she said.

“It has been a real pleasure working with a young multi-talented cast and I believe The Red Shoes showcases the high calibre of young dancers Australia has to offer”. 

The Red Shoes: Next Step will be released in 2022 via Pivot Pictures.