Late teen Tyler Gage is a directionless young man, despite the care provided by his loving foster family. With his best friend Marcus "Mac" Carter and Mac's younger brother "Skinny" Carter, Tyler spends his time stealing cars, playing pick-up games of basketball, and attending house parties where hip-hop is king. After he is caught and convicted of vandalism, Tyler is sentenced to community service at the scene of the crime: the Maryland School of the Arts. Tyler feels out of his element among most of the students at the school. But after her dance partner Andrew suffers an injury, classically trained dance student Nora Clark, who is preparing for her potentially career starting senior showcase, asks Tyler, who she spied doing an impromptu hip-hop dance out on the street, to replace Andrew in her showcase for rehearsal purposes only until Andrew recovers, despite Tyler not being a trained dancer. Getting the reluctant OK from the school's director, Miss Gordon, Tyler agrees. This partnership begins Tyler's association with the artistic side of the school and the students. Although their partnership has its many bumps, Nora helps Tyler see his life in a different way, while Tyler makes Nora examine how she sees her craft. Their professional partnership and burgeoning personal relationship is threatened by Nora's self-centered boyfriend, Brett Dolan, and Nora's commitment to Andrew as a dance partner. Tyler also feels like he's being pulled in two directions, especially as Mac sees him leaving his old friends behind him. An incident concerning Skinny makes both Tyler and Mac examine in which direction their lives should lead.