See it just to watch them dance

Stomp The Yard

on January 12, 2007 by Tim Cogshell
Teenage dance movies have been all the rage these days: There were Step Up, Take the Lead, Honey, the two Save the Last Dance movies and Roll Bounce, which was basically a dance movie on roller skates. And now there's Stomp the Yard.

Here, a bright tough kid from Los Angeles named DJ (Columbus Short, Accepted ) is shipped off to Georgia when his little brother is killed in an act of gang violence at an underground dance competition. At Truth University (yep: Truth U), an African-American college in Atlanta, DJ does not fit in — until he dances and finds himself a hot commodity sought after by each of the school's major frats, primarily to solidify their chances of taking the upcoming step competition dubbed Stomp. Eschewing the advances of the house that offers perks and privileges, DJ instead pledges ONO, where community service and brotherhood are the creed — a lovely notion, and sincere enough in spirit, but unfortunately badly delivered. And, of course, there's a girl, April (Meagan Good, Waist Deep ), for whom all the boys swoon. When the setup is complete, the Stomp is on.

A primarily African-American performance derived from traditional forms of African dance, stepping is performed mainly at historically black colleges in the Southern United States by members of fraternities (and occasionally sororities) to the delight of on-watchers in competitions that, in some ways, are surrogates for gang violence. But mostly it's just really cool. Trite narrative considerations notwithstanding — not to mention rote dialogue delivered through heaps of attitude and squinty eyes; testosterone-driven bravura; and dime-store social commentary — Stomp the Yard is really cool because of the dancing.

Man these kids can dance. Unfortunately, director Sylvain White doesn't always trust his dancers (or perhaps the attention span of the audience), and thus engages in editing techniques to “enhance” many of the dance sequences. This is a mistake — there is no need to fiddle with these scenes in order to juice the moments; instead, White should have studied his Busby Berkeley and trusted the thing in its purest form. Here, the dance is the thing. Distributor: Screen Gems
Starring: Columbus Short, Meagan Good, Ne-Yo, Darrin Dewitt Henson and Brian J. White
Director: Sylvain White
Screenwriter: Robert Adetuyi
Producer: William Packer
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG-13 for a scene of violence, some sexual material and language
Running time: 115 min.
Release date: January 12, 2007

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