In 2009, philanthropist Brenda Rever opened Baltimore's first all girls secondary charter school in the Mount Vernon neighborhood. Staring out with sixth graders, under the guidance of counselor Paula Dofat, the school's main goal was to have one hundred percent college placement for the graduating 12th graders.


One of those students, Blessin Giraldo started up a Step troupe to compete against other schools, as a form of extra curricular activity. Director Amanda Lipitz follows the progress of some of the girls in the troupe during their senior year at the school in 2015/2016.

The film is staged immediately after the Freddie Grey riots that lasted for several days and caused millions of dollars worth of damage. Lipitz gets to know three girls in particular - Blessin, Cori Grainger and Tayla Solomon - all on the step troupe. She also introduces us the new coach Gari McIntyre who brings a certain amount of credibility.


The film only touches base with the principle Christina Jacobs, but spends quite a bit of time with the guidance counselor Dofat who is fighting an uphill battle with Blessin's mothers seeming parental indifference as Blessin's grades and behavior are like a roller coaster. The mother has apparent anger management issues that gave cause for her marriage breakup.

The other two girls are merely ornamental as Blessin turns out to be the featured target. Tayla comes from a impoverished family and is concerned about how she will pay for college when her parents have problems keeping the electricity on; she is however the class valedictorian.


Cori comes from a single parent situation with a very involved mother who comes to all the practices and sometimes shows more enthusiasm than the girls. Her grades are fine with the only issue being separation from mom.


Blessin is the project however, with decent skills in everything but her English and a preoccupation with a boy and her hair. Her hair is different in every scene with lots of make-up and fake eyelashes. She says she wants to do better but does nothing to make you believe her.


The film comes in rather quickly and surprisingly features very little of the stepping. We see practices and a couple of performances but Lipitz spends the majority of the 83-minutes looking at the girls family lives and college prospects. Ironically, we never see any of the girls in an actual class other than step practice. Moreover, the film never digs into what Blessin's mother does beside be angry.


The film only glances at the other households and the other girls. We don't even know why there is a fallout between Blessin and the rest of the troupe. Quite a bit is omitted.


"Step" manages to be an nice motivational, feel-good film that describes the dysfunction but never reveals the reasons. The step scenes are fun, but far too few.   -- GEOFF BURTON