Share & Connect
Each time Jennifer Gibgot and Adam Shankman have launched a new ‘Step Up’ film, they have made sure to match and then surpass the energy, diversity and complexity of the previous film’s dancing. But with ‘Step Up Revolution’, they have outdone all their previous efforts by scaling up the production values and bringing in more different styles of dance than ever before.
“From the very beginning, it was important to me to include the full spectrum of dance in this movie,” says director Scott Speer. “I believe everyone is naturally a dancer. And every style of dance is really about communicating. The Mob blends many different styles of movement into their flash mobs, including non‐dance styles like parkour, which incorporates vaulting, rolling, running, climbing and jumping. I don’t think anyone has brought all of these different aesthetics together in a film.”
By juxtaposing the different styles, Speer believes that he not only shows how well they can work together, he also emphasizes the individual strength of each discipline. “They’re almost at their best when they’re all cut up against each other,” he says. “You really appreciate the hard‐hitting hip‐hop when you see it set up against the elegance of contemporary dance. That’s when you can best understand how universal dance is, which is one of the most powerful ideas in this movie.”
To pull together all the various elements, the producers brought back Jamal Sims, the prolific actor, dancer and choreographer who staged all three earlier films as well the recent remake of ‘Footloose’, the Madonna: Sticky & Sweet Tour and ‘Hannah Montana: The Movie’. “He has always done incredible work for us,” Gibgot. “We’ve been proud to watch him grow professionally.”
Sims was encouraged to take his creative spirit to the limit—and beyond. “A big part of our evolution has been introducing new dance styles in each film,” Sims says. “Scott’s approach was that whatever I could dream up, he would try and make happen. He wanted to take as many different kinds of dance as possible and make them work together.” Sims brought in a diverse team of choreographers to help realize Speer’s ambitious vision, including Chuck Maldonado, Chris Scott and Travis Wall. “Bringing other choreographers in ensured that the numbers all have a unique look and feel,” says Sims.
“For example, Chuck is a stepper and he did Stomp The Yard 2. He helped us with the finale, which is an unbelievable blend of so many styles of dance. Chris has a strong tap background and worked with The LDX. Travis has his finger on the pulse of the contemporary dance world. His pieces are very emotional and come from the heart of the movie.”
Wall was handpicked to choreograph Emily’s audition for a contemporary dance company. “We knew that we wanted someone different for that,” says Gibgot. “It’s a totally different style from the rest of the film and Travis could do that.”
“He has a different sensibility,” says Smith. “Kathryn McCormick trained as a contemporary dancer. She’s not schooled in hip‐hop, which was heavily featured in the previous films. We still have lots of hip‐hop dancing in the movie, but we made a choice when casting Kathryn to bring in something new. Travis was integral to realizing that.” A duet between Sean and Emily, the dance plays into the film’s “Romeo and Juliet” romance.
“Not only do they come from two different places and social strata, the way they dance is different,” says Smith. “Ryan brings a much more urban feel. Kathryn’s more lyrical.”