STOMP THE YARD comes as a pleasant surprise to those of us who have yet to be introduced to 'stepping' - a sport/dance form that is not break dancing, not hip-hop, not modern dance, not clogging, not ballet, but instead is an exhilarating display of rhythm, physical dexterity, and creative choreography that makes this little film well worth watching.
The story is minimal and hackneyed and serves basically as an outline for the dance performances. DJ (the enormously talented dancer/actor Columbus Short) is sent from Los Angeles to Atlanta's Truth University after his conviction for street brawling, a fight in which his brother (Chris Brown) was killed. Once on campus DJ is works for his uncle as a gardener and is soon courted for his step dance skills by two rival fraternities. One fraternity gains DJ's attention and he pledges. Of course there is the requisite love conflict (the beautiful Meagan Good as April), who just happens to be the girlfriend of the rival fraternity step leader (Darrin Henson), and the usual undercurrent of familial dichotomies between DJ's humble background and April's influential father bring the tension to the front: the result is DJ's triumphant performance in the annual stepping competition between the two fraternities. The ending is predictable but sensitive and with a message.
The real star of the film is the magnificently choreographed and executed dancing, performed by the actual cast members. Director Sylvain White and his choreographers center their attention on the big sequences and the result is very fine entertainment. In addition to the gifted Columbus Short and Darrin Henson the cast includes such fine actor/dancers as Brian J. White, Ne-Yo, Laz Alonzo, Oliver Ryan Best, Richmond Duain Martyn, Justin Hires, and many others. It is difficult to resist the excitement of the commitment of this fine cast to the introduction of step dancing to the public at large. So much talent! Grady Harp, May 07