Raya (Juilliard-trained Rutina Wesley) is forced to leave private school when her sister dies after an expensive battle with addiction that drains her mother's financial resources (shades of "Stomp the Yard").
Raya hopes to re-enter private school by acing a qualifying test for a full scholarship, but in the interim she's in public school, where former friends resent that she treats them as a way station.
She could always pay her way, of course, and Raya starts to eye the large cash prizes given out at step-dancing competitions. Raya starts dancing again, hoping for a cash payoff and to establish her street credibility.
The movie gets a little messy as Raya jumps from one competitive group to another - one team is run by her would-be boyfriend (Dwain Murphy), one by a tough female rival (Tre Armstrong), and one by a perennial champ who'll do anything to win.
Raya's shifting allegiance mirrors her own internal conflict related to aspiration and representation - and the movie should have found a way to convey Raya's confusion without being confusing itself.
Most of the energy lost through a leaky narrative, however, pours back in the dance sequences, choreographed by Hi Hat, presented competently by director Ian Iqbal Rashid, working with what is obviously a restricted budget.
Produced by Brent Barclay, Jennifer Kawaja, Julia Sereny, directed by Ian Iqbal Rashid, written by Annmarie Morais, music by Andrew Lockington, distributed by Paramount Vantage.