The Next Step

  • 1997
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama, Musical

A closely observed and surprisingly polished look at a Broadway dancer facing -- or perhaps more to the point, not facing -- the fact that his performing days are numbered. Nick Mendez (Rick Negron) has been working in Broadway shows for years -- he's not a star, but he works steadily. Time, however, is not on his side: Nick's in his early 30s, which makes...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A closely observed and surprisingly polished look at a Broadway dancer facing -- or perhaps more to the point, not facing -- the fact that his performing days are numbered. Nick Mendez (Rick Negron) has been working in Broadway shows for years

-- he's not a star, but he works steadily. Time, however, is not on his side: Nick's in his early 30s, which makes him an old-timer in a brutally competitive profession where youthful athleticism wins out over mature experience every time. Girlfriend Amy (Kristen Moreu) has already made the

transition from dancer to physical therapist, but Nick is determined to hang tough, ignoring a series of body blows to the ego: His current show closes, his agent drops him, he's forced to work in a friend's restaurant to pay his share of the rent, and Heidi (Danise Faye), the fellow dancer with

whom he's having an affair, gives him the heave-ho because he won't leave Amy. Hope comes in the form of a revival of Gangland -- a West Side Story-like musical in which he originated a leading role -- but director Austin (real-life choreographer Donald Byrd, who did the movie's

dance numbers) has doubts about casting Nick in the physically demanding role of a teen gang leader. It's obvious that screenwriter Aaron Reed knows the dance world, even if Nick's bad-luck spiral into degradation -- one minute he's on Broadway, the next he's rejected by the Beefcake Dancers and

driven to dabble in hustling -- is compressed until it looks like shameless cliché. Shot on location in New York, this glimpse into the insular world of professional hoofers probably won't find much of an audience outside the ranks of would-be dancers, and the title -- which only means something

once you know what the movie's about -- doesn't help. But movies about dancers who keep their clothes on are a rarity, and this one is worth a look.

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  • Released: 1997
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A closely observed and surprisingly polished look at a Broadway dancer facing -- or perhaps more to the point, not facing -- the fact that his performing days are numbered. Nick Mendez (Rick Negron) has been working in Broadway shows for years -- he's not… (more)

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