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Street dancer Carly (Nichola Burley), who works at a London sandwich shop is trying to lead her crew to victory at the UK Street Dance Championships. After many set-backs including losing their rehearsal space, unexpected help comes from the Ballet Academy's head teacher Helena (Charlotte Rampling). Impressed by the skill and enthusiasm of Carly and her troupe, Helena offers the street dancers a deal: they can practice in the Academy's luxurious dance studio in return for collaborating with her dancers. After years of classical training, the ballet dancers are horrified at the crew's slouchy style, while Carly is increasingly exasperated at their aloofness. Eventually, both sets of dancers acquire mutual respect for each other and Carly can't help being drawn to handsome ballet dancer Tomas (Richard Winsor).

Review by Louise Keller:
Sensational dancing, funky music and romance all play their part in this upbeat, crowd pleasing film about passion and dreams. A cut above the usual dance movie, there's a twist to this story. Yes, of course it is about street dancing, but the storyline takes us in a slightly different direction, fusing classical ballet with improvised hip-hop dance moves - and the result is hot. Lovely Yorkshire actress and dancer Nichola Burley makes a star turn as Carly, facing major professional and personal challenges to achieve her goals. With impressive 3D effects to help put us in Carly's dancing sneakers, first time directors Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini succeed in delivering a vibrant film bursting at the seams with joie de vivre.

When we first meet Carly, we quickly understand she has two passions: dance and Jay (Ukweli Roach), the lead dancer in her group of talented street dancers, who have just qualified for the finals of the UK Street Dance Championships. With a chance looming to head to New York for the finals and the words 'I love you' fresh on her lips, Jay tells the devastated Carly he is leaving her and the group - for 'time out'. Charlotte Rampling is terrific as Helena, the Ballet Academy head who believes in alternate and controversial methods. A handful of ballet students appear to have had the passion drilled out of them and Helena offers Carly and her team free rehearsal space at the Academy, if Carly can 'mix it all up', incorporating them with the street dancers in their routines. One of the ballet dancers is muscly, hunky Tomas (Richard Winsor) and we know that romance is around the corner.

Predictably, there is an impasse and conflict including a wild food fight in the Academy canteen, when discipline, etiquette and grace are flung aside like the take-away fried chicken over which the apple nibbling ballerinas have turned up their nose. There's a memorable face-off scene when the street dancers and ballet dancers are divided only by a ballet barre and when splits on the floor are contrasted by upside down splits below the barre. When Helena takes Carly to see her first ballet, we see Carly's emotion-filled face in close up as the dancers are juxtaposed on the screen in front of her, to the music of Tchaikovsky's Sugar Plum Fairy. I am not familiar with Diversity or Flawless who made their names on Britain's Got Talent, but let me just say that these are extraordinary dancers who would have been right at home on stage in a Michael Jackson extravaganza.

There's dancing in the street, in the rain, on a roof top overlooking London at dawn, on steps, in malls and even in a sandwich shop, where there is a great routine involving cucumbers, bread and cold meats. The climactic dance sequence is edge-of-seat stuff, when passion, technique and improvisation are happily come together in one joyous, heart-pumping finale.
First published in the Sun Herald

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(UK, 2010)

CAST: Charlotte Rampling, Nichola Burly, Richard Winsor, Rachel McDowell, Eleanor Bron, Patrick Baladi, George Sampson, Tameka Empson, Sianad Gregory, Jennifer Leung

PRODUCER: Allan Niblo

DIRECTOR: Max Giwa, Dania Pasquini

SCRIPT: Jane English


EDITOR: Tim Murrell


RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount/Transmission


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