New 'Step Up' in an era where dancers move into foreground
In the original “Step Up,” the 2006 dirty-dancing dynamo that launched a franchise now spanning five films, Channing Tatum's character, a troublemaker with a sense of rhythm, does what comes naturally to him. Spinning and leaping and stepping are no big deal.
“Y'all are talking about dancing like it's rocket science or something,” the buff bad boy he plays says in the film.
In fact, it's nothing like it, says Stephen “tWtich” Boss, a professional hoofer who's performed in the past three “Step Up” films, including the one opening Aug. 8, “Step Up: All In.” It's like the “Fast & Furious” movie behemoth, only instead of fast cars, you have ripped bods and booming beats.
This new film, in particular, deals with some of the realities facing pro dancers: the brutal impact on your body, the relentless rejection and the struggle to make rent on pathetic paychecks. For Boss, who's based in Los Angeles, the biggest challenge has been “keeping the resilience of a dream alive. It takes years and years and years. JLo is our poster child. That's how you do it. She was a Fly Girl back in the '90s. You can get a great gig, but you have to continue to work.”
So, one has to ask Boss whether anyone, and we do mean anyone, could step up without falling down — literally or otherwise. The dancer from Montgomery, Ala., has been doing it since he was 16, and now is a regular on Fox's “So You Think You Can Dance,” as well as one of Ellen DeGeneres' guest DJs. And he's married to fellow “SYTYCD” vet Allison Holker.
“Anyone can learn how to dance. Anyone can learn choreography. ... It's just defining the idea of what you're learning,” he says. “The smallest child, when they hear music, they bounce around. Everyone has it in them to dance. It's just practice.”
Boss feels that now, he and his fellow artists are getting their due respect. “But we have a long way to go. Dance has always been the bottom of the totem pole. Dancers used to get paid as extras in music videos. It's just recently that dancers get paid as featured talent. You want to get paid and be able to live,” he says.