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.
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 ABA, 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. Written by
After Jody tells her parents she has been accepted into the ABC, her mom suggests she could still go to college, and says, "Indiana has a great dance program." Amanda Schull, who plays Jody, actually attended Indiana University for two years. See more »
The audience that watch the students' performance at the end of the movie is exactly the same as when the students go to watch the ballet at the beginning of the movie. See more »
[waves to sit down]
Wait. All my life I've wanted to be one of ABA's perfect ballerinas. I wanted to be you, Juliette. But I'm not you, and I'm not perfect,I'm just me, bad feet and all, and I'm starting to think that I like that just as much.
[begins to speak]
No, because if you're not going to offer me a place in the company I don't want to hear it. And if you are, I might not have the strength to say no, and then I would be spending my best dancing years in the back of a corps waving a rose ...
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Every now and then there's a new movie about dancers, or dancing, or one with a lot of dancing in it. From Astaire to Kelly to Hines, it's the poetry of motion. If you have any appreciation for the art form whatsoever, the one to see right now is Center Stage. It's about a school year in the life of three teenage girls who are roommates at a ballet academy in New York. They pass the auditions to get into the school, but then have to work as hard as possible to move on from there. At the end of the year is a workshop performance where they can be seen by most of the people in the industry who could hire them, including the resident company. They work toward and hope for a career in the most demanding pursuit imaginable, facing gifted competition, and placed on a limited schedule. "A dancer has ten years, maybe fifteen if they're not injured" in order to peak in their career and be the best they can ever be. A singer can sing most of their life. An actor can act all his life. A dancer's clock is ticking. It's only a matter of time before they can only teach and choreograph, so there's a unique sense of urgency to start young, study hard, and survive. All that might make a good movie. Might not.
Along with the good, you have to take the less than good. The characters are nothing new. There's the naive female ingnue (Amanda Schull), the bad girl (Zoe Saldana), the favorite girl (Susan May Pratt), the cocky lead boy (Ethan Stiefel, "hailed as the most advanced male dancer in the world"), the nice guy dancer (Sascha Radetsky), the nice guy non-dancer (Eion Bailey), the gay friend (Shakiem Evans), the pushy mother (Debra Monk), the demanding teacher (Donna Murphy), and the dictatorial company director (Peter Gallagher). How'd he get in there? There's even a Russian figure skater (Ilia Kulik) in the cast as a dancer. By the way, everybody is amazingly good-looking. Kind of like, Friends as done by George Ballanchine. Only in the movies, right? The story is nothing new either. Will everything work out? Will their dreams come true? Will they survive the heartbreaks of love, and the bodyaches of dance? Well, it's the movies, isn't it? Since the cast features some of the youngest and best dancers in the world, the acting comes second. Often a distant second. Or third. Don't expect any awards to be handed out in that area. Some parts are surprisingly weak, but then they move on and get back to letting their feet do the talking.
Did I mention that the only reason to see this is for the dancing? The way it's filmed here is excellent, without actually having to go to a ballet. The beauty of movement, the grace of the girls, and the strength and skill of the boys is captured as well as any other movie in the subject you're likely to see. The big dance numbers at the end are worth seeing by themselves, including more modern styles. Beforehand, there are a couple of dance scenes without ballet. The kids go to a club one night and salsa, and later we see a bunch of Broadway hoofers in a jazz class lead by Priscilla Lopez (original cast of A Chorus Line) that reminded me of scenes in All That Jazz. Those were the most fun. Other scenes will remind you of The Turning Point, White Nights, and even Dirty Dancing. The comparison to Fame is inevitable. That was then, this is a new century. The natural talent, dedication, motivation, support, and ass-busting hard work needed to succeed at this kind of life is touched on here, but also touched on is the sheer love of the game. For dance itself. That's the main thing. E-mail and comments are welcome.
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