Step It Up and Dance

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Step It Up and Dance TV Poster Image
Dance show hardly dares to be different. Teens OK.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The contestant pool is diverse; a variety of races, ages, and sexes are represented. In general, the spotlight is on skill and athleticism, but catfights and other interpersonal drama sometimes steal the focus.

Violence

Dancers sometimes attack each other verbally, but not physically.

Sex

One contestant is a go-go dancer (which she stresses isn't the same thing as being a stripper because she keeps her clothes on); costumes can tend toward the skimpy (including shirtless guys and exposed female buttocks), and there's some racy dancing that simulates sex. Burlesque dancing is also featured. The dancers' sexual orientation (some are straight, some are gay) is treated openly and matter of factly.

Language

Words like "damn" or "hell" are allowed, while "f--k" and "s--t" are bleeped. "Fag" is used at least once by a gay dancer.

Consumerism

Choreographers and judges frequently mention the names of celebrities they've worked with; in one episode, dancers learn a routine to a Spice Girls song, and a Spice Girl serves as a guest judge.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Dancers are sometimes shown drinking alcohol in social situations.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that dance-loving tweens will probably want to watch this reality-style dance competition. But there's some sexually charged choreography and bleeped swearing that makes it more age-appropriate for teens and up. Speaking of sex, several dancers are openly gay, and while sexuality isn't a big part of the plot in general, it isn't downplayed, either. There's also a healthy amount of commercialism in terms of subtly promoting individual artists like the Spice Girls and Broadway musicals like Legally Blonde.

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What's the story?

In STEP IT UP AND DANCE, a dozen dancers vie for a $100,000 prize and bragging rights as the "ultimate dancer" by competing in a series of elimination-style auditions designed to test their skills and versatility. Hosted by former Saved by the Bell star Elizabeth Berkley (who went on to appear in the infamous 1990s dance pic Showgirls), the show also features Tony Award-winning choreographer/director Jerry Mitchell as the dancers' mentor (think Project Runway's Tim Gunn) and choreographers Vincent Paterson and Nancy O'Meara, who serve as judges.

Is it any good?

The biggest problem with Step It Up and Dance is that its tried-and-true (um, make that tired-and-true) formula is all too familiar -- and it's hard to shake the feeling that we've seen all this dance drama before. Still, the choreography is usually compelling ... although every now and then, you wonder what the heck they were thinking. The other good news is that at least half of the 12 contestants are truly talented and dynamic, which makes them a lot of fun to watch. In short, this is solid viewing for die-hard dance fans and a decent choice for the rest of us -- at least if there's nothing better on.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the extensive training and dedication required to become a professional dancer. Is a dancer's life more physically demanding than you realized? Do you consider dancers to be artists or athletes -- or a little bit of both? Which dancers do you think have the best shot at winning this competition? What sets them apart from the rest of the contestants? Families might also enjoy discussing (or even trying to perform) the different types of dance styles demonstrated on the show, including jazz, ballet, hip-hop, and Broadway.

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