Internationally acclaimed South Auckland hip-hop superstar Parris Goebel turns this classic follow-your-dreams dance story into something special, thanks to her electrifying, unique style of choreography and incredible troupe of dancers.
You've likely heard of Goebel. The Young New Zealander of the Year 2014 runs Palace Dance Studios, an Auckland dance studio that's home to numerous world hip-hop dance championship groups.
Two-time world female choreographer of the year, Goebel has choreographed for J.Lo and was hired by Cirque du Soleil to help choreograph its Michael Jackson show.
Now, she shows off her signature Polyswagg style of hip-hop in this local film, directed by Outrageous Fortune actor Tammy Davis.
Born to Dance tells the story of Tu (Tia-Taharoa Maipi), a teenager from Papakura who dreams of being a professional hip-hop dancer. Tu lives with his strict father (John Tui), who gives him an ultimatum: find a proper job by the end of the summer or follow in his footsteps and join the army.
While holding down a job at a recycling centre and dancing with his local crew, Tu secretly travels to the North Shore each day to try out for a coveted place in internationally acclaimed dance group K- Crew. It's his one shot at making it but it's a move that puts his relationships with his father and friends at risk.
This is the first acting gig for Maipi's, a member of the Royal Family dance crew, and he does an admirable job.
American actress Kherington Payne (Fame) brings some acting experience to a cast of mostly dancers-turned-actors, but it's Onyeka Alice Arapai as Vonnie - Tu's neighbour and friend - who adds genuine heart.
Stan Walker has some nicely nuanced moments and doesn't look out of place dancing beside some of the best dancers in the world.
This is Tammy Davis' feature film directorial debut and he's done a good, solid job - admirably so given his talent must act and dance.
With dance unit director Chris Graham, he's captured Goebel's hard-hitting routines in breathtaking fashion.
Born to Dance's coming-of-age dance story might be familiar (think Step Up or Save the Last Dance) and the script not nearly as adventurous as P-Money's excellent soundtrack but thanks to exhilarating performances, there's an infectiousness you can't resist.
The flashy opening titles give the impression Born to Dance is trying to compete with its international counterparts, but it's also filled with local culture and colloquialisms, a diversity of characters, and long journeys on Auckland's public transport. Go and be blown away by the ridiculous dance talent this country has to offer.
Cast: Tia Maipi, Stan Walker, Parris Goebel.
Director: Tammy Davis
Running Time: 94 mins
Rating: PG Coarse language & drug references.
Verdict: Electrifying hip-hop performances elevate predictable plot.