The film follows the tale of the disadvantaged Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum) and the privileged modern dancer Nora Clark (Jenna Dewan), who find themselves paired up in a showcase that determines both of their futures. Realizing that they only have one chance, they finally work together.
A sequel to the film, titled Step Up 2: The Streets, was released on February 14, 2008.
The plot was produced by the production company Elite Pictures based in Europe. Following a party, Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum) and his friends break into Maryland School of Arts and damage many of the props in the school's theatre. When a security guard appears, Tyler helps the other two escape and accepts the blame. He is sentenced to 200 hours of community service, which he has to serve at the school. While working, he watches a dance class and meets Nora Clark (Jenna Dewan), a student preparing for her "senior showcase." The performance could determine if she gets a job with a dance company. Later, Tyler mockingly shows his friends some of the dance moves he learned while watching the school's ballet dancers, mixing them with break-dance and street dance moves.
Nora's dance partner sprains his ankle, leaving Nora without a partner. After auditioning some other students, she doesn't meet any who are good enough. Tyler offers to help, but she at first refuses. Eventually she changes her mind, having seen him dancing earlier, and convinces Director Gordon (Rachel Griffiths) to allow Tyler to rehearse with her. During their initial practice session, Tyler is antagonistic toward Nora as well as her boyfriend, both of whom respond with haughty attitudes. As they continue to rehearse, Tyler and Nora grow closer, each teaching the other about their respective styles of dance. Tyler also befriends a musician at the school named Miles Darby, who has a crush on Nora's friend Lucy.
One day, Nora takes Tyler to a special spot on the waterfront, which is where she envisioned her routine. She tells Tyler she always imagined it would be with a large group, and Tyler helps her dream come true by recruiting younger dancers from the school to perform in her number.
Nora's boyfriend Brett gets a recording deal with a company, but in doing so, dumps Miles to sign the deal. Nora then breaks up with her boyfriend after seeing his poor treatment of their friend.
Tyler asks Director Gordon if she will let him attend the school, and her response is that he must prove to her that he deserves a chance. Upon hearing this, Nora says the showcase can be his audition. Nora's dance partner returns, seemingly healed from his injury. Tyler feels that he is no longer needed in the routine, and angrily accuses Nora of treating him the same way her ex-boyfriend treated Miles. He leaves the group and Nora and goes back to janitorial work at the school.
Later on, Tyler's friend Skinny, who is also Mac's brother, is fatally shot after stealing a car, prompting Mac and Tyler to realize that they need to make better choices in their lives.
Nora again loses her partner because he is not able to do the routine that Tyler and Nora came up with together. Nora finally decides to do her senior showcase solo. However, without a partner, the routine is not as good and she knows she will not be able to get accepted into any dance troupes. Before the showcase starts, Tyler arrives, and after making up they perform the showcase together. Nora is offered a place in a dance company in New York City, and Tyler is accepted into the Maryland School of Arts.
- Channing Tatum as Tyler Gage
- Jenna Dewan as Nora Clark
- Mario as Miles Darby
- Drew Sidora as Lucy Avila
- Damaine Radcliff as Mac Carter
- De'Shawn Washington III as Skinny Carter
- Alyson Stoner as Camille Gage
- Rachel Griffiths as Director Gordan
- Josh Henderson as Brett Dolan
- Heavy D as Omar
- Deirdre Lovejoy as Katherine Clark
- Jamie Scot as Colin
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