Featuring Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger, Tayla Solomon, Gari McIntyre, Paula Dofat. Directed by Amanda Lipitz. (2017, 83 min).
Confessing a bit of ignorance, I wasn't even aware that "Step" was a thing, not in the organized sense, anyway. But this combination of drill-team cadence, body music and interpretive dance is practiced in many high schools, with teams regularly meeting to compete in regional competitions.
Step is a documentary that follows one particular team from a Baltimore charter school, focusing primarily on three seniors who've been on the team since the school opened. It's an impoverished neighborhood where families struggle to even keep the lights on and groceries in the house. The school's step team (founded by Blessin, one of the seniors we follow) is really the only temporary escape these girls have.
|Hall monitors from Hell.|
But this film is about more than just preparing for an upcoming competition. The all-girls school where they attend has a goal to help 100% of their graduates move on to college. This is no small feat, considering some of the obstacles these girls face both in and out of school. In fact, a majority of the film's emotionally affecting moments - and there's a lot of them - come from the financial & academic obstacles they're forced to overcome.
However, the climactic Step competition against numerous other schools (and have previously never come close to winning) does bring things to a rousing conclusion worthy of any fictional sports movie you'd care to name. The filmmakers' affection for its subjects is infectious - even when they're being typically-stubborn teenagers - and one can't help but root for them to emerge triumphant. Step might also inspire similarly-aged kids who believe their own problems are insurmountable.
FEATURETTES: "Step is Life"; "The Lethal Ladies of BLSYW"
"LETHAL LADIES" MUSIC VIDEO
AUDIO COMMENTRY - By director Amanda Lipitz
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS