Center Stage

May 12th, 2000


Center Stage

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Cooper & JodyJody & CooperThe ballet studentsNancy & MaureenCooper, Jody & CharlieEthan Stiefel stars as Cooper Neilson

A group of 12 teenagers from various backgrounds enroll at the American Ballet Academy in New York to make it as ballet dancers and each one deals with the problems and stress of training and getting ahead in the world of dance.

Release Year: 2000

Rating: 6.3/10 (9,403 voted)

Critic's Score: 52/100

Director: Nicholas Hytner

Stars: Amanda Schull, Ethan Stiefel, Sascha Radetsky

"Center Stage" is an intimate look into the education of three young students, Jodie, Eva and Maureen, as they study at the American Ballet Academy. Life isn't what they expected at the esteemed ABC, and all three face problems along the road. Jodie doesn't have the "ideal" body for dancing, Eva doesn't have the right attitude, and Maureen doesn't have the heart. Along the way, they learn that love can be found in unlikely places, and dancing should be a passion, not a duty.

Amanda Schull - Jody
Christine Dunham - Audition Teacher
Stephen Stout - Mr. Sawyer
Maryann Plunkett - Mrs. Sawyer
Laura Hicks - Nervous Mother
Barbara Caruso - ABA Scout
Jeff Hayenga - ABA Scout (as Jeffrey Hayenga)
Zoe Saldana - Eva (as Zoë Saldana)
Victor Anthony - Thomas
Karen Shallo - Mother at Audition
Carlo Alban - Eva's Friend
Giselle Daly - Eva's Friend
Ethan Stiefel - Cooper
Susan May Pratt - Maureen
Shakiem Evans - Erik (as Shakiem Evens)

Taglines: Life doesn't hold tryouts.

Release Date: 12 May 2000

Filming Locations: Fordham University, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts - Columbus Avenue & 61st Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $4,604,621 (USA) (14 May 2000) (1506 Screens)

Gross: $17,174,870 (USA) (10 September 2000)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Jonathan's Ballet is performed by the corps of the New York City Ballet.

Continuity: When the Jonathan Reeves and Cooper are chatting in the theater, you see Eric coming down from the jump solidly in the background. In the next instant he has fallen over and injured his ankle. His landing from the jump shows no imbalance that would lead to an injury.

Eva Rodriguez: What, did you go to a special bitch academy or something?

User Review

Guilty pleasure

Rating: 8/10

Come on, I know it's not cool to admit to liking what is essentially a cheesy teen flick. But go ahead, say it aloud - this is a fun movie! Sappy, badly acted, full of exaggerated clichés and one-liner groaners, Center Stage nevertheless has a kind of charm to it. No, it's not an Oscar contender or a change-your-life kind of movie. This is pure escapism, plain and simple. But - say it together with me now - there's nothing wrong with that.

Amanda Schull plays Jody, a wannabe ballet dancer who gets accepted to the prestigious American Ballet Academy. The movie follows her life and that of her friends and fellow students, who fall into the predictable stereotypes. There's Eva (Zoe Saldana), the city kid with attitude. There's Maureen (Susan May Pratt), the teacher's pet. There's Erik (Shakiem Evans), the gay guy. There's Cooper (Ethan Stiefel), the bad-boy celebrity who's still in love with the director's wife ballerina. There's Charlie (Sascha Radetsky), the perfect good guy. One has the obnoxious stage mom. Another has the talent but not the drive. A third has the drive but not the talent. Etcetera. And the lives of the students take the typical high school romantic twists and turns, as the students compete for one of three spots in the company by the end of the year, and also in the various love triangles between the cast. There are few surprises here.

None of the cast is much of an actor - Schull is particularly uneven - and the plot has a sort of predictability to it that make eyes roll.

So why the 8/10? Well, because despite all this, Center Stage is a great amount of fun - mostly due to the dancing.

By casting real dancers in a lot of the roles, Center Stage lends an air of credibility to the lavishly filmed dance sequences, clearly done with love by such talents as world-leading dancers Julie Kent and Ethan Stiefel (widely considered to be one of the best ballet dancers in the world) as well as relatively new talents such as Amanda Schull. Some of the actors have body doubles dancing for them, such as Zoe Saldana - who had some dance training but not at the level required by the film. But overall, the dance scenes are the best part of the movie, especially Cooper's ballet at the end.

Some movies are great because they change your life or make you think. Center Stage is great because it's like candy - full of saccharine sugar and empty calories, but eminently watchable over and over again. Sometimes movies don't have to be socially relevant or intellectually stimulating to be good. Sometimes, escapism is OK too.


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