It’s senior year and for some students at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, times are going to be tough. When they aren’t juggling school-work, boyfriends, work, family-issues, and just general things that most teens have to go through, oh yeah, they got this little thing called college coming up. For some of them, they already have their decision made and now all they have to worry about is how much money they’re going to get from their choice. However, for others, the choices aren’t so clear and as the months continue to go by, and slowly but surely, the senior year begins to fade away, so do the bigger, brighter and better opportunities for colleges that these girls want to get into. But through it all, the girls are always able and willing to fall back on their dance team, that’s not only one of the better ones in the State, but a perfect release from their stressful day-to-day lives.
Step is an interesting documentary because you could easily seeing as just being about this high school dance team and leaving it at that. And for the first half-hour or so, that’s what it is; it’s interesting and entertaining, but still a little conventional and sort of like an afterschool-special. Then, director Amanda Lipitz shows her true intentions by having the movie focus less on the dance team itself and instead, use it as a springboard to focus on the actual members themselves, their lives, their hopes, dreams, ambitions, and wishes for what the rest of their lives may turn out to be.
Aka, what college they’re going to.
And in that sense, Step is a very intriguing documentary because it literally focuses on these gals in one of the most important moment in their lives, where all of a sudden, everything becomes far more serious and adult-like. In a way, it’s kind of sweetly nostalgic – that feeling of having to choose a college, or better yet, what the hell you want to do with the rest of your life, while also saying goodbye to childhood. It’s sad and heart-breaking, sure, but it also brought me back to my good old days and made me feel warm, just as I bet this documentary intended to.
It’s also smart because Lipitz doesn’t forget to focus on these girls as they are becoming full-fledged, adult women and it’s all the more compelling because it feels like no frills are being taken. We see them all for their mistakes, problems, and issues, as well as their accomplishments, skills, and lovely qualities that make them worthy for a whole documentary to be about them. In fact, the ones who make the most mistakes are the ones to watch the most, because through them, it’s easy to remember the decisions we’ve all made in our pasts, and how some of them worked out and didn’t.
In other words, it’s insightful, but also incredibly sweet and lovely to watch. It brings us back to the good old days, while also not forgetting that these women’s lives and their stories are what matter the most. In a way, it’s actually more interesting to see them struggle with the day-to-day, like get good grades, or have to keep a steady boyfriend around, rather than seeing their dance-moves.
Sure, they’re good dance moves, but do we really need to see them all to make us feel that these girls are, in any way, special?
Probably not. But okay, I guess it helps.
Anyway, Step is the one movie you should see. Don’t let the possibility of it being dancing for an-hour-and-a-half scare you in any way, shape or form. It’s mostly just about a bunch of women, getting ready for adulthood, being on their own, and having to understand what it all means.
Remember those days?
Consensus: Heartfelt and sweet, Step takes a smart, insightful look into the lives of a few girls and brings us all back to a time when everything was a lot simpler, but also painstakingly important.
8 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Fox Searchlight