Step

Review by Louise Busfield

Directed by

Amanda Lipitz

Starring

Blessin Giraldo Cori Grainger Paula Dofat

Anticipation.

Won the US Documentary Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking at Sundance.

Enjoyment.

Inspiring and uplifting.

In Retrospect.

A truly motivational film that combines two things: hope and education.

Amanda Lipitz’s uplifting documentary follows a high-school step dance team in inner-city Baltimore.

Combining energetic footwork, intense clapping and swift movements into one fully-formed dance routine, step dancing is the subject of this impressive documentary from director Amanda Lipitz. It chronicles the lives of the first graduating class from The Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women and focuses specifically on three young women – Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger and Tayla Solomon – as they challenge themselves both academically and emotionally in order to achieve their goals: a Step championship and acceptance to college.

Filmed in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death, a young African-American man who suffered extreme spinal injuries while in police custody in April 2015, Step showcases a different side to Baltimore, a side that fights back, but not in the usual sense. It demonstrates the struggles these young girls face, being black women forced to grow-up amid a climate of police brutality and an extremely prejudice justice system.

It’s a triumph from Lipitz, an experienced Broadway producer turned first-time film director who understands the irresistible emotional pull of a good human-interest story. The women involved are real and well worth rooting for. Cheerful, strong and perceptive, they are not afraid to be themselves, and their vulnerability and apprehension over what’s to come (adulthood) is terrifyingly relatable. The world of Step brings them stability and an environment they can open up in. It promotes a strong sense of sisterhood that teaches them to support each other’s goals as well as their own.

Though Step tugs at the heart-strings in the right way, the girl’s hardships are tough to watch at times. Yet it is how they overcome their fears and trepidations that truly makes the film inspiring, demonstrating that a lot of hard work and determination, plus an incredible amount of support from family, friends and mentors alike, can make all the difference when it comes to accomplishing your dreams. Nothing is ever out of reach.

Published 11 Aug 2017

Tags: Amanda Lipitz

Anticipation.

Won the US Documentary Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking at Sundance.

Enjoyment.

Inspiring and uplifting.

In Retrospect.

A truly motivational film that combines two things: hope and education.

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