Step dancing knocks me out. I absolutely love it. I went to my first step show at the U of MD in the '80's and it totally blew me out of the water. I'd never seen anything like it. Well - I guess that's not entirely true. I'd seen black marching bands. (Something you may not (want to) know about my mother is that she got a scholarship to go back and finish college when I was in grade school. The school that offered her a scholarship was a predominantly black state school and they had a FANTASTIC band.) But in a band the steps are to showcase the music being played. In a step show the steps showcase the line, the bond of the fraternity brothers/sorority sisters, and they showcase the steps themselves. I never wanted to be part of the white greek system the way I wanted to be a part of the black greek system. Ignore (completely) for the moment that I am one of the palest and most arrhythmic white girls you've ever seen - there was something that called to me at that first step show. The percussive steps, the syncopated stomping, the precise angles of shoulders, necks, heads and hand movements - every bit of it amazed me. The exact and coordinated appearance of those on line, the explosive pride on display, and the unruly appreciation of the audience at the show all spoke to the kind of solidarity I desperately wanted to be a part of in college.
I've seen shows that have some of those elements: percussion, showmanship, mind-bogglingly uniform athleticism. Stomp. Riverdance. Whatever those huge Japanese drums are called. I love (Love, LOVE) stuff like that - but none of it reaches into my being the way step shows do. On the flip side, I've seen things that unexpectedly repulse me. Example: Krumping. For the love of God I do not understand Krumping! Given my bizarre attraction to stepping you'd think I'd have at least some appreciation for it - but no. None. Maybe it's the clown thing? Maybe it's that it's too much like professional wrestling for me? Maybe it's that I can't think of a less euphonious word than "krumping"? I have no good explanation for my lack of krumping affinity. All I can say is that I yearn to be in a step show the way I could never, ever - for love or money - want to be a krumper.
Impossible yearning and inexplicable repulsions aside - I'm not exactly hooked into the step show circuit. I haven't gotten to see one in years. But tonight I got to watch Stomp the Yard (on DVD because I missed seeing it in the theater a few months ago by ONE day!) Ignoring the mistake I made in renting it instead of buying it (why, why, why? I KNEW I was going to want to own it!) it was perfect watching it at home. I watched the whole thing through. Then I watched the extra features. Then the step scenes again. And then again. It was not a complex plot (by any stretch) but it was extremely well acted for a dance vehicle. It was believable in all the story ways it should be and it was unexpectedly authentic in the dance-story elements. And the stepping was abso-fucking-lutely brilliant. If you have any, even the slightest, interest in stepping you must go watch this movie. Like now.
(I mean it. You must. Now.)