There is a formula to every contemporary dance movie, cribbed from Romeo and Juliet, jacked from West Side Story, and interpreted in various mix-n-match forms from Dirty Dancing to Step Up (all versions) to Save the Last Dance to Stomp the Yard to Lambada: the Forbidden Dance to Honey to Footloose (both versions), ad infinitum. The formula is thus: one lead (usually the man), is an outsider for reasons of class, race, dance style, or a combination of the three; the other lead (usually the woman) is the insider, and when she also is a dancer, it’s usually something like ballet to connote her proper nature.
Born to Dance, a forthcoming New Zealander dance film that appears to employ elements from past dance films such as You Got Served, Step Up 4: Revolution, and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (and, maybe, the documentary Rize), follows the story of Tu, a working class dude and an incredible dancer who thinks just maybe his aspirations can get him out of the Army—as does Sasha, the fetching lady who inspires him to follow his dreams. It apparently counts as New Zealand’s first “multi-million-dollar hip-hop film,” and is choreographed by Parris Goebel—who also choreographed Step Up: All In, aka Step Up 5 to completists.
Does this look as formulaic as every other dance movie? Yes! Do you want to see the hell out of it regardless? Hell Yes! But you’ll have to wait if you don’t live in New Zealand or won’t be attending the Toronto International Film Festival, where it opens this month.
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