Global Warming: Street Dancing Takes the World

The new year just has just begun and we already have crazy beats to dance to, all thanks to the new Varun Dhawan-Shraddha Kapoor movie, Street Dancer (3D). Releasing on January 24, this movie is bound to set the screen on fire, with Remo D’Souza directing and the legendary Prabhudeva making a cameo in “Muqabla” (remixed). Dhawan plays Sahej, the talented dancer from India, and Kapoor plays Inayat, his Pakistani counterpart. The story is familiar yet exciting: two opposing teams compete in a dance battle in London, the dance is that of the streets, and a forbidden love story looms in the background. And Prabhudeva shows up, just to humble the kids. This isn’t the first time we’ve come across this, and it certainly won’t be the last.

Street Dancer 3D released on Jan 24

Street Dancer 3D succeeded ABCD 2, or Anybody Can Dance 2, which released in 2015. Dhawan played Suru and Kapoor played Vinnie, both from Nalasopara. Their street dancing skills took them to the Philippines and Las Vegas. They didn’t win either competitions, but won hearts instead (aww, I know). The movie’s skeleton is similar: there’s drama, forbidden love and, of course, Prabhudeva. It was a hit, since everyone was excited for it after ABCD: Anybody Can Dance (2013). This is the original film; the one that started the ‘street dancing’ fad in Bollywood. Starring Prabhudeva, Ganesh Acharya, Salman Yuseff Khan and Lauren Gottlieb, this movie rocked the box office. It was raw, gritty, and true to dance. It shed light on breakdancing, parkour, bar dancing, and local dance crews from Apna Bambai.

I grew curious; what is it with these ‘street dancing’ movies that makes them so exciting? Is this a new trend? I did some research, only to find out that the ‘ABCD series’ isn’t restricted to Bollywood—it’s part of an international series of films on street dancing, a chain of movies released globally that have (unknowingly) inspired each other. The 21st century has witnessed a rise in this rule-breaking, raw and real dance form. Street dancing, or break dancing, resonates with the working class, urban youth. They are young and talented and have found recognition through movies and social media.

In 2013, Hindustan Times published an article that called ABCD “India’s answer to Step Up”. The Step Up franchise has been revolutionary—six films thus far have been made within it. The latest was Step Up China, out in 2019, that was set in China. It followed Step Up All In (2014), set in Miami and Vegas, which followed Step Up Revolution (2012), set in Miami, which came after Step Up 3D (2010), set in New York City. Before this was Step Up 2 (2008) and the original, Step Up (2006), both of which were located in Baltimore and in the Maryland School of Arts (a fictional version of Baltimore School of Arts). There is a reason why the franchise demanded these many movies in rapid succession: the gritty storylines, competitive spirit, budding love stories, and the fantastic, fantastic dancing.

But the Step Up series did not just inspire Bollywood—it set a ripple effect all around the world. Duana Adler, who wrote two of the Step Up films, directed Make Your Move (2013): a South Korean dance film. In England, Street Dance 2 (2012) followed Street Dance 3D (2010), and this sequence followed the Step Up format: dance groups, rivals-turned-lovers, dance from the wrong side of the tracks. Beat the World was Canada’s response to the North American street dance films.

Feature films aren’t the only ones that have touched this artform. Documentaries such as Street Dancers (2016) on Polish street dance, Meet the Middle Eastern B-Boys (2016), The SlumGods of Mumbai: Hip-Hop and the Dharavi Way (2014) from Mumbai, and The African Cypher (2012) explores street dance in South Africa. Each of these places have glocal styles of dance—based on American street dancing, but heavily influenced by local forms—classical, folk, and even tribal.

And so you have it. A global map, if you will, created purely by street dancing. Sure, Street Dance originated in the USA, but there is a reason why this resonates with all people, from all walks of life, practicing all sorts of dance forms. Maybe it’s the moves you watch on screen that make you feel like getting up and dancing. Or maybe it’s the hot actors and actresses whose passion for dance seems to give them the will to live. Or maybe it’s the one common thread that connects people from all countries and cultures: the streets. The streets are everywhere: they are intersections where struggle meets dreams. And that is why they are the only place where music, dance, and all art, can flow with freedom. Uninhibited, avant-garde, rebellious freedom.

A Rough Timeline of Street Dancing Films

Street Dancer 3DIndia (Bollywood)2020
Step Up ChinaChina (Hollywood)2019
Street DancersPoland (Documentary)2016
Meet the Middle Eastern B-BoysQatar (Documentary)2016
ABCD 2India (Bollywood)2015
Mad, Mad, Mad About DanceIndia (Bollywood)2014
The SlumGods of MumbaiIndia (Documentary)2014
Step Up All InUSA (Hollywood)2014
ABCDIndia (Bollywood)2013
Make Your MoveSouth Korea2013
Street Dance 2UK2012
The African CypherSouth Africa (Documentary)2012
Honey 2USA (Hollywood)2011
Beat The WorldCanada2011
Step Up 3DUSA (Hollywood)2010
Street DanceUK2010
Dance FlickUSA (Hollywood)2009
B-GirlUSA (Hollywood)2009
Step Up 2USA (Hollywood)2008
Make It HappenUSA (Hollywood)2008
Kickin’USA (Hollywood)2007
Stomp The YardUSA (Hollywood)2007
How She MoveUSA (Hollywood)2007
Step UpUSA (Hollywood)2006
Save The Last Dance 2USA (Hollywood)2006
You Got ServedUSA (Hollywood)2004
HoneyUSA (Hollywood)2003
Save The Last DanceUSA (Hollywood)2001
Breakin’USA (Hollywood)1984


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