Published May 28, 2009Documenting the process of collaborative art in filming the audition and training process for the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line, Every Little Step plays like a carefully considered and intelligently wrought version of So You Think You Can Dance? with apropos touching moments. It's obviously more than the insipid television program but provides a similar context of testimonials and hard work ethic from potential candidates, proving the audience a framework in which to choose "favourites."
Smartly, the documentary moves beyond this familiar set-up, interspersing the audition process with historical footage of a previous rendition, along with interviews featuring those involved. It provides a groundwork with which the audience can compare the updated version in relation to the historical genesis while appreciating the dedication and gradual evolution of the front-and-centre dancers.
While much of the doc dwells on repetition, featuring the same dancers doing the same routines, the purpose is to show improvement in technique, giving a layman's idea of how to judge and appreciate the progress of each individual personality. This certainly helps reinforce the template of creative process but is perhaps too deliberately contrived to succeed beyond that of a passing fancy and an above-average reality television program.
On this latter end, some rumblings of politics and favouritism inevitably spurt out of those rejected, as judges Baayork Lee, a dancer that played Connie in the previous rendition, and Bob Avian, the co-choreographer in the 1975 production, have their own agendas and vision.
What most may remember from this documentary of human trials is a particularly weepy and memorable monologue from Jason Tam, wherein he discusses his less dignified dancing roots, his homosexuality and his relationship with his parents. It's moments like these that take a routine documentary and make it far more than it otherwise might be. (Mongrel Media)