"Center Stage" Deserves More Credit

edited January 2020 in Theatre Concerts

I love Center Stage. There I said it. And I'm not ashamed to admit it either. 

It is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. If I pass it on TV, I can't stop watching it until I see everyone clapping around Jody to the piano version of "We're Dancing."

I can't explain why I love this movie as much as I do. Maybe it's how quick it moves, the intentional comedy, the unintentional comedy. Maureen and her Mom, Donna Murphy, "Just Dance the s*** out of it!" I don't know.

But something that has always bugged me is that Center Stage isn't given the credit it deserves. You might not initially think it but the film launched the early 2000's dance film explosion, launched the careers of future stars and highlighted(ever so lightly) the actual plight of professional dancers.

That's Sergei, that's Jody, that's Eva, I'm Erik, and you're cute...

Remember, there really wasn't a movie like Center Stage before it. Sure there were fantastic dance movies but for anyone born in the 80's and 90's, we had Dirty Dancing and Footloose. So when Center Stage came out we finally had our dance movie. A year after Center Stage, came Save the Last Dance and we were off to the races. Within the next couple of years we would get Step Up , You Got Served and even a sequel to Dirty Dancing. Then TV jumped on it with So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars and Dace Academy. I'm not saying that any of this wouldn't have happened without Center Stage but it was certainly the first of its genre in the new century. 

I am the best goddamn dancer in the American Ballet Academy. Who the hell are you? Nobody.

Something that was also great to see was that most of the cast, were actual dancers. Of the main characters, five are professional ballet dancers or have had ballet training (Amanda Schull, Zoe Saldana, Ethan Stiefel, Sascha Radetsky, Julie Kent), one is a professional figure skater (Ilia Kulik), and ironically Susan May Pratt, who played Maureen, had no previous ballet training. It's one thing to see the choreography, it's another to see it down by the actual actors playing the role. 

I am your slave...... I'd believe it more if you weren't staring at your f*cking reflection when you said it.

I also love that the movie, while featuring mostly ballet, gives more than a wink to Broadway by casting some of its biggest stars like Donna Murphy, Peter Gallagher, Olga Merediz, Debra Monk and Priscilla Lopez, but also features a typical Broadway Dance Center style class. Who among you haven't tried to do the "Higher Ground" choreography? 

Did you see how on I was tonight?

And of course there is the dance numbers. Most people don't know that the movie was choreographed by Susan Stroman and "An American in Paris" mastermind Christopher Wheeldon. But the numbers are spectacular. Probably the best of of it in my opinion shown below. 

Also, if you really think of it, opposite of Save the Last Dance, Step Up, Dirty Dancing, this movie is really all about dance. Yes there is a bit of romance, but it's never the main focus of the overall film. While those movies end with a kiss between the love interests, this movie ends with Jody being surrounded by applause because of her performance. 

Is the movie brilliant? No. Is it total lovable cheese? Absolutely. So if you haven't seen it, see it now. If you've seen it, go watch it again. And take pleasure in knowing you're watching one of the better dance movies of all time. 

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