Step Up is bringing its franchise to our living rooms again – this time with a fitness DVD encouraging people born from a boom box to get fit while looking good with Step Up: The Official Dance Work Out.
Like the films, this is an incredibly glossy DVD, with the dancers looking like Abercrombie and Fitch models that raided Nike Town before filming, representing the full range of a Pineapple Studio dancer stereotype, from swagger to geek chic, and in particularly the checkered shirt look.
The first thing about the DVD is it has a Pineapple Dance-cum-movie principles: When I say this is a ‘glossy work out’ I mean even the warm up has blocked formations with dancer entrances and exits!
To compliment the franchise’s branding locations are constructed to reflect those used in the films. You’ll recognise where Tyler met Nora in the dance studio from the first Step Up, as well as witness a dance routine performed in the pouring rain like Step Up 2 The Streets – the producers really did go that far to relate to fans!
Born from a boom box?
The most important part element of this DVD is how good is the dancing? For your money you get five routines covering LA style, house, breaking, and ‘audition’ (probably better described as female commercial). Press play on the DVD menu and you can watch through a summary of what to expect in terms of the style of choreography.
The routines are pitched around the intermediate ability with enough technicality to challenge those with some experience in dance and generally remain true to hip hop style. While some moves are repeated to make choreography easier to grasp (like we found in Michael Jackson: The Experience), the majority keep within style and contribute enough as a warm up.
Routines are divided into two parts that total up to a complete routine of eight eights, broken down with clear descriptions, and importantly full length shots of the dance instructor – one of the most annoying things we’ve found about instructional dance DVDs is choppy camera work. Fortunately jazzy angles are saved for the dance performances at the end.
Steps are narrated with a voice over with cheery American tendencies which are a little grating on a DVD that uses UK dancers! It can make you feel a little disconnected from the dancers who simply dance and don’t talk through the choreography themselves. Once the routine has been learnt in the walk through you can then do it at a half pace before graduating on to the full speed dance out without descriptions.
Less experienced dancers may be thrown off that routines aren’t counted in on the eight, an edge that Diversity: Dance Fitness Fusion has on this work out. Although choreography works to each phrase, the first thing most dancers learn is how to dance to an eight.
Music from the Step Up soundtracks underpin dance routines. Observant people might notice some of the songs are cover versions and not the originals, which is surprising for a franchise that is always successful in the box office.
The names of each section were probably by drawing names from a hat. Club Nu Flo, Throw Down Chill and, get this: Street Urban House are just some of the superlatively named sections that confuse what style it is you’re learning and are sure to cause a few embarrassed looks if you were to describe what your style of dance was to a real dancer.
It’s also unbelievable that after three movie soundtracks there are no house tracks to house to or breakbeats for the toprocking section.
Does it step up?
Step Up: The Official Dance Work Out gets a pass in regards to fitting to Step Up‘s image of dancing. The routines are well choreographed, explained clearly and look good when performed in full, although the voiceovers and not teaching to eight counts (or more hip hop “boom-cah!”) may lose some people.
As ever, a DVD shouldn’t be used as an alternative to going to a dance class, as the context or history of the moves isn’t covered: funk styles aren’t done to funk music, house isn’t to house music, and each section has misleading titles. Instead it’s best to use the work out as a step up (sorry) to gain confidence before visiting the local studio. I personally can’t wait to see people rip off the audition routine for their own auditions.