The first thing that one notices about both Misha Gabriel and Christopher Scott is how comfortable the two men are with being thrown into the limelight. Both are dancers who worked with such greats as Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake and Mariah Carey. The two young men are both stepping out from the chorus and into the spotlight with the opening of Step Up Revolution.
The film is the fourth in the series of dance movies, a franchise that put Channing Tatum on the A-list. In Step Up Revolution Misha plays Eddy, a character he calls “a fiery hot-head, quick to react and hopefully loveable.” Christopher Scott returns as his character of ‘Hair’ from Step Up 2 and 3 in this fourth installment.
The two men have known each other for years but this is the first time they have worked on a project together. “The dance world is a pretty tight-knit community” Misha said. “It is so much talent and so many people who have finally got to come together and work together.”
Christopher said of his co-star and friend, “He was always the young, prodigy kid. I remember looking at him and thinking that this kid is crazy.”
Misha Gabriel has been dancing since he was two years-old. His mother is Irina Brecher, the famed ballet dancer and teacher. Misha said that his mother was a big influence on him and his work ethic. He has studied many different forms of dance and respects all the approaches. “I never try to make dancers adapt to my style. I do love working with very different styles,” he commented.
Misha appeared in the films Jackass 2, Clerks 2, Center Stage 2, Footloose and The Muppets. He is one of the dancers featured in the Michael Jackson documentary This Is It. He said that Jackson was exactly like you would expect him to be, a perfectionist on stage and very shy off. “It was sort of a dream come true,” he said of working with the superstar.
After such successes as a dancer, Misha began to re-evaluate his thoughts on career. “I danced for Michael Jackson and after dancing for him that was sort of the pinnacle of my dance career. It was hard for me to go back to dancing for other artists. I felt like I had hit my peak, my plateau. So, for a transition, I have been doing choreography but I had been planning to do some acting. Someone put a bug in my ear that they wanted me to read for the lead so I started taking acting classes. I really fell in love with the role. I really connected to the part. When I landed that role, it was as if all the planets had aligned.”
The film is set in Florida, an area with many different influences. Said Christopher, “We got to go to Miami and meet this whole new dance world out there. It is such a great dance scene down there and everyone is passionate about dance. There is this huge Latin influence in the dance. It was great to work with these young, fresh kids that weren’t so deep in the industry.” He also said that some of those kids are now trying to break into the business in LA.
Misha added, “I was born in Miami and it’s going back to my hometown. The nightlife there is awesome. We would go out as a group, as a mob and take over clubs. There was no hope for anybody else trying to dance.”
One of big set pieces of Step Up Revolution has the dancers doing their art on top of automobiles. Misha said that they did ‘put some dents in cars.’ They did not have stunt doubles in the film and did all the dangerous work themselves. “We use dance as a creative outlet. It is about underprivileged kids and they are using dance to make something of themselves. Throughout the movie it becomes an outlet for creative protest.”
Both Christopher and Misha are excited about the state of dance in the media. Christopher said, “So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars have been helping bring dance back to the forefront of entertainment.” Then Misha said, “Anything that puts dance out there, I’m a big fan of. To me dance is just as athletic and just as intense as any other sport – it just never really got the respect it deserves. It is slowly, gradually getting there. Maybe one day we will make as much as professional basketball players. I think we work just as hard.”
Christopher added about dance on the internet, “I think what is amazing is the online presence that dance has. It is so strong and a good way to track how much people really want to see dance. You see that some dance video got fifty million views. I think, ‘Let’s develop a show around dance because people want to see it.’ I think people will always want to see it. It has been around forever.”
Christopher said that the Step Up series has done amazing things for the world of hip-hop culture. “This underground hip-hop world is crazy. When you go into these b-boy jams and these battles it is like a whole world. It is very intimate and they are very secretive with their footage. They don’t like anyone taping. Now, they are starting to put them up on YouTube. In a lot of ways, this is authentic and they bring it to the big screen.”
The movie has many different dance styles, not just contemporary. “Ballet,” said Christopher, “we get how brilliant they are, we know this. Street dancers – we look at them as this cool trick they are doing but there is a lot of brilliance to what they do. The creators of these moves, I am a big fan of them.”
Christopher finished the interview by talking about the director of Step Up Revolution, Scott Speer. “Choreography,” he said, “in a lot of ways is similar to directing. It is rare to have a director who knows dance and a producer who knows dance. I think that is why these movies do so well because they are real dance movies made from dancers. They have a different eye and a different mind. You can tell when a choreographer directs.”