STARRING: Rutina Wesley, Dwain Murphy
Street smart: Wesley
Hot on the heels of Step Up 2: The Streets comes another dance-as-a-ticket-to-self-realisation number, with hot-button social issues attached. Step is a romper-stomper style of ultra-gritty urban moves that is to classical dance what rapping is to debate. It’s a smoking visual and that’s just as well, since the story of bookish Raya (newcomer Wesley), forced to return to her tough Toronto neighbourhood from her private school after the death of her drug-addicted sister, is hardly a novel concept.
Raya is busting to get back to her exclusive education, and with her Jamaican immigrant folks cleaned out of cash, winning a big-time step comp could just be her escape route. No prizes for guessing how it goes down from there, and how forcefully it comes across. These characters all hunger for what they don’t have, their bodies more eloquent in their frustration and desire than any hot-headed rhetoric. Stand clear when the music starts pounding — and don’t dare try these slam-jam moves at home.