Update: Whoops! I originally posted that Raya Green was played by Vanessa Oryema. I was wrong - she’s played by Rutina Wesley. Sorry!
Ok, I’ll admit it, I kind of have a teen dance movie problem. One of my favourite movies of last year was Stomp the Yard (I will make an honest case for why I truly believe it is a passionate appeal for gender and racial equality! Also it is full of hot babes).
But while I understand why some might not quite agree that Stick It is among one of the most rousing and anti-establishment pieces of cinema of the early ‘00s, with ZERO guilty pleasure quotient I highly, heartily recommend How She Move.
In a word, what distinguishes How She Move from all the other teen dance movies that I hold dear to my heart, is how Real it is. And Realness is pretty unusual for a genre that can rarely hold itself back when it comes to fulfilling stereotypes about poor neighbourhoods, teenagers, men and women and physically impossible dance sequences.
Both the female and male characters span a broad spectrum of personalities, instead of falling into socially sanctioned roles of what it means to be a man or a woman. Or when they do fall into those roles, the motivations and reasons for why they choose to follow that path is clear - demonstrating (intentionally or not) that gender is learned rather than biological. That’s a pretty hefty topic for a movie featuring Keyshia Cole in a cameo.