Chip is a troubled dancer who has complete control on the dance floor, but is living a drastically uncontrolled life as a runaway who is homeless in New York. He is forced to scrounge for food and squirrel away in a corner of the dance studio.
Chip keeps to himself as his fellow dancers try to break through his aloof attitude while rehearsing for an upcoming performance at a NYC dance festival. He eventually opens up to this new family, and to the idea of having a relationship with Theo, a fellow dancer (Reed Luplau), and his tentativeness with his first lover has a sweet and shamelessly romantic quality. They have their first night in the studio, first bottle of wine, first real kiss, first drunken dance, they practice their fouette turns (let’s just say they burn the floor more than once).
Brown structures five episodes that explore the private lives of members of the troupe. This is the second film on the circuit this year (the other is "Test") with dance as the backdrop and is well filmed, with complete dance segments, without a lot of tricks or cutting. Original chamber vocal score by Nicholas Wright and sung hauntingly by Jonathan Celestin, and the finished dance sequences introduce each narrative segment of the story.
Those who love dance will love the segments showing the mechanics of a choreographer creating dance, this aspect could be tedious to other audiences. The choreography by Jonah Bokar is very lyrical, and expertly edited by Jarrah Gume. Cinematographer Derek McKane is also very dynamic filming the studio sequences and contrasts with New York streets and subway shots that give a real sense of the pulse of the city.
Ryan Steele stars as Chip and even though he may look 28, he is very believable and is a highly skilled dancer with fine drama and precision for Brown’s close camera work. The actor has a ballet background, but is now a premiere Broadway dancer-actor. He has appeared in the celebrated revival of "West Side Story," he has since performed in "Billy Elliot" and "Newsies," and is currently in "Matilde" on Broadway.
This article is part of our "Frameline 38" series. Want to read more?
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