The Fall of Dance: How She Move (2007) - Can't Stop the Movies
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The Fall of Dance: How She Move (2007)

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Andrew COMMENTARYI felt myself starting to break as I watched How She Move.  The tone, haphazardly assembled from bad bits of opening narration and "Gritty" street reality wasn't working for me at all.  Worse still, despite the presence of almost twice the dance scenes of Stomp the Yard, none of them were particularly exciting.

I have a theory as to why, and any professional dancers out there are allowed to correct me if I'm entirely off.  Dance works best as a cinematic device when it's used to create joy.  This is why films like You Got Served and Rize have stood head over heels above Step-Up and Stomp the Yard.  It's an expression of desire and passion instead of a bunch of angry people stomping their frustration out.

This, also, is why stomp dancing, while much fun to watch in person, just isn't exciting to view on the big screen.  No matter how loud the bass is turned up, the theater can't replicate the same sensation of engagement which comes with the legs of dancers connecting with the hard floor in tune with live music.  We need less distance, and stomp dancing is a form requiring the intimacy of the theater or energy of watching a street performance in person.

This is not a face that lights up when she's dancing.

Nothing in How She Move comes close to replicating this.  It's not director Ian  Iqbal Rashid doesn't try, but there is no way to film stomp dancing which replicates the necessary lack of distance.  Too many times the camera is far away, good for watching the freedom of movement, but since the space and body language utilized is so limited by the form it turns out to be an empty endeavor.  Then the opposite occurs, we're too close and we see nothing but disconnected feet and hands joined by the occasional gyrating torso possibly linking the two together.  It's disorienting, confusing and not satisfying in the slightest.

The emotion involved with the dancing in this film is an separate problem and a fairly big one.  Raya's (Rutina Wesley) opening narration sets the wrong tone for the rest of the movie as she explains how she lost both of her parents to drugs and her desire to attend medical school.  First, we won't be able to shed the despair she's feeling because of the deaths of her parent's and, in dread, await the inevitable drug subplot.  In addition, we know she'll have to confront her love of dance with the desire to attend medical school.  So why watch the rest of the movie?

The plot ambles on as predictably as the other dance films I've sat through.  Which isto say I've yet to be surprised by a single development in any of these films (save for an unexpected tragedy in Rize).  So the dancing is uninteresting and poorly photographed, the plot is as traditional Point A to B as possible (complete with late arriving mother-figure at the end), and the performances are just enough to keep some kind of charisma onscreen.

Aggressive, missing most of the movement, and very unsatisfying.

Sadly, there's very little interesting to comment on outside of the film as well.  Previous movies correlate to some kind of societal change even if the movie itself didn't position itself as directly commenting.  How She Move is a Canadian production, which explains part of the disconnect between filming and dance (Canadian hip-hop superstars a bit few and far between, so this is understandable).  This is possibly the source of any sort of interesting subtext, but there wasn't as much evolving outside the world of this film as well.

I do not know how I am going to feel about the rest of the films in this series, but with multiple low-budget efforts and a dance parody in the mix, I can't say I'm excited.  Step-Up 3D will be an oasis.  Mark these words.  A beautiful, sweaty oasis.

The Schedule
November 11th –  B-Girl
November 18th – Make It Happen
November 25th – Step Up 2 the Streets
December 2nd – Dance Flick
December 9th – Step-Up 3D

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How She Move (2011)

Directed by Ian Iqbal Rashid.
Screenplay by Annmarie Morais.
Starring Rutina Wesley.

Posted by Andrew

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