Turn the Beat Around, Premiering On MTV Feb. 26
by Laura Tucker
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Chicago deejay Steve Dahl may have blown up disco back in 1979 at Comiskey Park, but it’s still alive and out there. MTV’s new movie Turn the Beat Around breathes some new life into it at the same time as making it retro.
The movie revolves around a young dancer, Zoe (Romina D’Ugo), who is biding her time at her stepfather’s flooring store while waiting for her big break. She’s a good dancer, but has a hard time sticking to the exact routines without throwing her own little nuances into it. She sneaks into a hip club with her boyfriend, Chris (Adam Taylor Brooks), another dancer. Zoe strikes up a conversation with the club owner, Michael (David Giuntoli). She talks about her idea to open up a club featuring disco music, and he agrees to finance it if she’ll choreograph the floor show.
Zoe calls on her dancer friends in the tight community, the same ones she’s competed against at auditions, to be a part of the floor show. She gets ideas for the disco dances, including the funky chicken, from her mom’s old disco routines. It all seems to be going well, except not everyone else gets along very well. She and Chris seem to be growing apart, thanks to him getting a dancing gig with the production Zoe tried out for but failed. Additionally, he’s not too fond of Michael. He thinks that he doesn’t respect Zoe’s talent at all and is only offering her the choreography job to bed her. It’s the job of her dreams, but the rest of her life isn’t turning out the way she imagined it would.
Both D’Ugo and choreographer Tre Armstrong come from So You Think You Can Dance Canada, meaning there’s some impressive dancing skill in Turn the Beat Around. I had a chance to interview Brooks and was shocked to learn he had no formal dance training to speak of. He blended in quite well with these very talented dancers who have been training their whole lives. He compared it to working on a baseball movie, saying if he was working on a baseball movie, he’d learn to play baseball and work out with the pros. Here he was only doing the same thing.
I also asked D’Ugo what he really thought of disco music, seeing that he obviously wasn’t around when it was in its heyday thirty to thirty-five years ago. He’s in a band and likes all forms of music, and being introduced to it, he found he liked it. He especially liked what he’s heard from Donna Summer and admitted he wouldn’t mind adding some of her music to his iPod. The film uses many of the old disco songs we remember, such as the title song Turn the Beat Around, songs by KC and the Sunshine Band, etc., but updates these with a newer sound, making them seem less like relics and much more contemporary.
Or catch the preview clip here.
Turn the Beat Around debuts on MTV on Friday, February 26 at 10 PM ET/PT.
Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, provides reviews at Viewpoints, and provides entertainment news pieces at Gather. She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at LauraBelle@realityshack.com.
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