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STEP UP

The Choreography
With the cast assembled, Fletcher began to focus on two key components of STEP UP that go right to the heart of the film's experience: driving music and street-style dancing. To bring to life her choreographic vision of merging the grace of classical dance with the grit of urban moves as a foundation of the film's original style, she collaborated closely with assistant choreographer Zach Woodlee and Jamal Sims and Rosero McCoy, the hip-hop choreographers, both of whom Fletcher's worked with before on other film projects. "It was a great process working with Anne to come up with a natural blend of dance styles,” says Jamal Sims. "We would do a move and then Anne would add a classical interpretation to it to create something truly unique.”

It was Sims who worked most closely with Channing Tatum, developing his innate abilities, which turned out to be pure joy. "The minute we started rehearsals, Channing was so positive and he wanted to do it all so badly,” says Sims. "It was amazing because Channing had never had a dance class in his life, and that's exactly where Tyler comes from, too. Sometimes being selftaught can be an advantage because since you don't have any training, you're just going for it. You're listening to the music and you just start doing what comes naturally. And Channing had that perfect instinctual approach.”

But professional dance can't all be instinct. Tatum had to learn to count beats and dance in sync with an ensemble — skills that can take years to learn but that he had to pick up on the fly, much as his character does. Says Sims, "I think ultimately his dance performance really comes across as very authentic. It doesn't feel choreographed or like somebody gave him those steps. We wanted it to feel like it's all coming from within Tyler, and Channing really was able to do that.”

Sims also enjoyed working with Jenna Dewan. "She was a dancer for Toni Braxton and we worked together for a while back then, so I knew her. She's amazing,” he says. "I would show her what I wanted and in five minutes it was done. And she's really beautiful, so that adds even more to her grace.”

Dewan was thrilled to work with Sims but especially enjoyed her close relationship on set with Anne Fletcher. "Anne has so much insight into a dancer's needs and creativity, and she had such a strong vision for each move in this movie,” says Dewan. "I felt completely confident with Anne because I knew in advance that dancing was going to look flawless.”

As the dance sequences came to life, everyone was impressed by their natural immediacy and they way they were so strongly interwoven into the film's drama. Says executive producer John Starke: "What's amazing is that in the beginning, there were just words on the page, and somehow Anne Fletcher and the choreographers created these great dances that deepened the story, the dancers learned them and the final result is something really exciting and fun.”

Every beat and every move in STEP UP builds up to the climactic performance at Nora's Senior Showcase in a number that retells the story of the film through music and dance. The scene is the culmination of all the steps seen throughout the film. Sums up producer Feig, "Throughout STEP UP, what you see are worlds colliding, and in the end, you have all the music and dance styles — everything from classical to modern, jazz and hip-hop — coming together into one.”

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