July 26, 2002 – The Disney Channel Original Movie Gotta Kick it Up! Premieres
“It means no one on my squad gets to be the diva. You all have to work together, help each other to improve.”
On July 26, 2002, the Disney Channel Original Movie Gotta Kick it Up! premiered. It was based on the true story of a middle school dance team from California. The movie was written by Meghan Cole, Nancy De Los Santos, Ramon Menendez, Tom Musca, and Stu Krieger, and was directed by Ramon Menendez. It starred Camille Guaty as Daisy, America Ferrera as Yoli, Jhoanna Flores as Alyssa, Sulima Rodriguez as Marisol, Sabrina Wiener as Esmeralda, Susan Egan as Heather Bartlett, and Miguel Sandoval as Principal Zavala.
It’s the beginning of a new school year, and a new teacher named Heather Bartlett arrives, and gets lost on her way to the administration building. She was a former executive at a dot com company, and thinks that teaching will be a piece of cake compared to watching the company crash and burn. She walks into her class to find her students dancing, and tries to get them to settle down. When she explains what they’ll be learning in her biology class, one student, Daisy, asks why they should care, which leads the class once again in to goofing off and dancing. Daisy is called out by the principal for being a troublemaker, and is given four weeks of detention. Later, a few of the girls in the class are talking about their dance team, as their coach retired, leaving them with nothing but disbandment. Each of the girls have a different reason to be on the team, and none of them take the news well. Esmeralda, one of the more passionate members of the team, finds out that Miss Bartlett went to Julliard, and asks Principal Zavala if Miss Bartlett could be the new dance coach.
Zavala asks Bartlett to be a part of the dance team, but she refuses. He asks her to at least think about it, but she is still uncertain. Esmeralda talks to Bartlett about it as well, and convinces her with a deal: if she teaches the team, Esmeralda will help her gain popularity as a teacher. Bartlett agrees, and tryouts for the team will be held. Daisy, who once thought that dance team was for losers, decides she wants to join, hoping that it could replace her four weeks of detention. When Bartlett lists her rules, candidates begin to drop out one by one, leaving a small group. The auditions finally begin, and Bartlett slowly realizes that she has her work cut out for her. The team’s first practice starts off with laps around the track, and the group is rather unimpressed with Bartlett’s leadership and her routine. The girls finally head to their first competition, and are intimidated by the team that goes before them, with Esmeralda getting hit with crippling stage fright. The music starts, and the girls are all over the place with their routine, with Daisy walking out halfway through due to frustration. Daisy quits the team, and the rest of the team is ready to join her. Esmeralda blames Bartlett for their disastrous performance, as the girls think that she could be teaching them a whole lot more, but she’s holding back.
That weekend, Daisy heads back to the school with her boyfriend, when they find Bartlett dancing in the gymnasium. Daisy is angry that Bartlett really was holding back, but leaves before she sees Bartlett break down in tears. Later during school, Bartlett tries to talk Daisy back onto the team, but Daisy refuses, as she accuses Bartlett on holding out on them. For the next practice, Bartlett decides to get them back to basics. Daisy suddenly shows up, deciding to give Bartlett a second chance. Although the girls are doing really well, Bartlett holds them back from competition, as she doesn’t feel like they’re ready yet. The team disagrees, and decides to try once again to convince Bartlett that they’re ready by playing music over the loudspeaker and dancing in the courtyard. Bartlett is furious with their actions, as she feels they disrespected her, and refuses to let them compete. The girls then decide to go on their own to the competition, without letting anyone know. They arrive just in time, and have Daisy’s boyfriend set up their music for them. They manage to pull the performance off, with Daisy getting the attention of the dean of the High School for Performing Arts. The team ends up winning third place overall, but end up in trouble with Alyssa’s parents, who are angry with the team for lying to them and placing them in possible danger.
Each of the girls end up with their own problems, with Esmeralda getting frustrated with all the demands placed on her by her family, leaving her with nothing of her own. Daisy heads to Bartlett’s to talk to her about what happened. Bartlett feels like the team has no respect for her, while Daisy believes that she doesn’t believe in them. Bartlett finally reveals what really happened at Julliard: she only lasted there two weeks, as she felt she was good, but not great, and felt like a fraud. Daisy reassures her that they need her, and they both decide to work together to get ready for regionals. They continue practicing and competing, becoming a stronger team in the process. Bartlett finds out about Daisy’s offer to join the High School for Performing Arts, and encourages her to go after her dreams rather than dropping them. Soon after, she gets into an argument with her boyfriend, Chuy, as he’s angry she spends all of her time with dance, and he breaks up with her. She decides she wants to go to the High School for Performing Arts, and calls the Dean for an application. Unfortunately, the girls aren’t able to go to regionals, as they have no money in the budget, so the girls decide to raise the money themselves as well as work on a routine for regionals.
One day, an old friend of Bartlett’s stops by with an amazing offer for her: the chance to be head of customer relations and marketing at a huge new website. Bartlett is flattered, but turns it down, as she’d rather keep teaching, but agrees to at least meet him for an interview. The rumor of Bartlett taking another job spreads around the dance team, and while she confirms that she had an interview, she tells them that she turned it down to continue teaching. The next day is the car wash and bazaar to raise money for the dance team, and while they raise a lot of money, it’s not enough. Chuy saves the day by bringing enough business for the car wash, and the two reconcile. The team is off to regionals in San Diego, and Daisy runs into the Dean again, which raises her nervousness level to an all-time high. Bartlett calms her down, letting her know that there’s a difference in being “the best” and “your best,” and it was her passion that really let her shine. The team goes on to the stage, and Daisy is still nervous, unable to move in the beginning, but soon regains her passion and nerves and is able to give it her all. The team finishes in second place and heads to Nationals.