Step It Up

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Step It Up TV Poster Image
Dance reality led by tough-talking, inspirational teacher.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Creativity, discipline, and hard work are themes; Young-Byron works hard and gives back to her community, sending the message that sharing your skills and time is important and rewarding. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Young-Byron is tough, wants dancers to grow and succeed both in dance and life. Both parents and dancers appreciate the opportunities given them by the studio.


Young-Byron yells, wields a baseball bat (but doesn't use it).


Occasional skin revealing bathing suits, costumes; sexy dance moves.


"hell," "ass," "crap"; curses bleeped (mouths blurred).


It promotes the Young Contemporary Dance Theatre; Range Rover, Yves Saint Laurent brands visible.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Step It Up is a reality show about an Miami inner-city dance company and the no-nonsense, tough-talking dancer who runs it. It contains positive messages about mentorship, the importance of hard work, discipline, reaching for better things in life, and giving back to your community. There’s some strong language (including lots of bleeped cursing with mouths blurred), and some of the outfits are skin revealing. It’s also a promotional vehicle for the Young Contemporary Dance Theatre. Aspiring dancers will appreciate the performances, but older tweens and teens are probably in a better position to understand the intent behind the strict teaching methods featured here.

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What's the story?

STEP IT UP is a reality show about the Young Contemporary Dance Theatre (YCDT), an inner-city dance company run by Miami-based professional dancer Traci Young-Byron. The no-nonsense, bat-wielding dance instructor carefully selects young men and women who have the potential talent, confidence, and willingness to work hard and be outstanding representatives of her company. Without accepting excuses, complaints, or anything but the best, she trains and mentors them to be self-confident, mature, and goal-oriented individuals. She's intimidating, but her dancers (and their parents) are grateful for the opportunity to work with her, because they know that they will not only become better dancers, but better people.

Is it any good?

It's a pleasure to watch this professional dancer use her talent and education to give back to her community, offering young African American people opportunities through dance and discipline. Young-Byron's unapologetic, tough-love approach is guided by her own personal experiences as a dancer as well as her inner-city childhood, but it's clear that she's preparing them to cope with pressure, rejection, and other life challenges by teaching them to work harder for something better.

Much of the show centers around dance practice sessions, which are often intense as Young-Byron scrutinizes technique and singles out the dancers who are struggling or underperforming. But unlike similar dance-themed reality shows, there's no "mama drama." Instead, parents celebrate the fact that someone is showing their children that they can rise above difficult circumstances and be successful in life if they are committed to it. These positive messages, along with entertaining dance performances, make it worth watching.   


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how dance and other art forms can help people live better lives. What kinds of life skills can you learn from learning to dance, paint, sing, or perform music? What opportunities exist for people who study the arts? Can people make a living doing these things, or are they best left as hobbies?

TV details

  • Premiere date: September 25, 2015
  • Network: Lifetime
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: March 13, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dance

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