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Movie Review

Center Stage

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for language and some sensuality

Reviewed by: Kristina James

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults and teens
Drama, Romance, Dance
1 hr. 53 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Cast of Center Stage (Copyright 2000, Universal Pictures)
Featuring: Peter Gallagher, Amanda Schull, Donna Murphy, Ilia Kulik, Susan May Pratt
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Producer: Laurence Mark
Distributor: Columbia Tristar

“Center Stage” is a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making a ballerina in the final stages. It depicts the fairy tale ballerina’s world as the hard life it really is. And it is also your typical teen soap opera and dance movie.

The story revolves around several young dancers, Jody Sawyer (Amanda Schull) and her roommates Eva Rodriguez (ZOË SALDANA) and Maureen Cummings (SUSAN MAY PRATT) who have all auditioned for the famous American Ballet Company, and now have to compete against each other for the coveted positions in the company. Three men were also selected along with the three girls, Erik (SHAKIEM EVANS), Charlie (SASCHA RADETSKY) and Sergei (ILIA KULIK).

Scene from the finale of Center Stage.Jonathan Reeves (Peter Gallagher) is the cold artistic director of the company and the dancers try to get on his good side and that of Cooper (ETHAN STIEFEL), the company’s young choreographer. The dancers have to compete for lead roles in an upcoming ballet that will decide their dancing career. Jody is overlooked as she does not have the right body or technique, but she lands a lead role in a piece Cooper is choreographing. It may be a mere coincidence, but she slept with him a few nights before. Eva is a very talented dancer, but because of a bad attitude towards the teachers, has ruined her chances of any good roles at all. It is well known Maureen will get the lead role as she is the best, and her mother is very determined to see her daughter as the star. There are other topics of conflict and sadness during the movie which are all very real in the ballet world.

Areas for concern: Personally I enjoyed the movie, as I am a ballet dancer and I teach at a Christian ballet school that I own. But because of the sexual scenes and adult content I would not want any of my students to see it, nor have I told them I have seen it, as I don’t want them going home and saying that Miss Kristina saw it. There are several sexual dance scenes during a performance and at a bar/club. During the performance the girls remove one costume to reveal a little black bikini top and bottoms, and the dancing gets more suggestive. Jody sleeps with Cooper, although nothing is shown, they kiss, eventually remove their shirts, and are later seen under the sheets. The students also go to a bar/club where there is very suggestive dancing, beer drinking and smoking going on. There is one use of the “f” word, and several other of the “s” word. Some sexual slang is used, and quite a few uses of God, Jesus, or other uses of the Lord’s name incorrectly. One of the male dancers is gay, but nothing is developed around it, except for a comment about him being interested in another dancer, who just got dumped by his girlfriend.

If you are a fan of ballet, you may enjoy this movie, but it would have been much better if the objectionable material was edited out altogether.

Viewer Comments
We enjoyed it. Finally a movie about dance! I do wish Hollywoood could learn to make a movie without the bedroom though. I was glad to see that they didn’t completely discredit dancers and the ability and disclipine it takes. The dance scenes were great. My Ratings: [2½/3]
Ann, age 42
We liked the movie because of the good dancing, but I think they made the dance industry look safer and more innocent that it really is. My Ratings: [3½/4]
Patti, age 40
No plot. No story. No hot guy. No complex, thought provoking character… nothing. Just dancing… It’s a pretty good chick-flick though… My Ratings: [3½/2]
Angie, age 21
The dancing is excellent, but other then that, it was boring! Not to mention the fact that the lead girl jumps into bed with a fellow ballet dancer after one date and then acts all upset when he ignores her afterwards. What did she expect! This was, in my opinion, a cheesy rip off of “Fame” (a much better “performing arts” movie by the way). Don’t waste your time or money on this one. My Ratings: [3/3]
Maggi, age 24
This film included sensous and provacative dance moves and included a scene that indicated premarital sex on the first date without nudity. This movie is little more than a soap opera that sends some positive messages about discovering identity and purpose outside of parental dictates. However, the entertainment value was not worth the price of admission, unless you are a ballet dancer. My Ratings: [3/2½]
John Blanchard, age 30
Movie Critics
…It’s enough to make you hang up your toe shoes for good.
Kevin Maynard, Mr. Showbiz
…a film that is memorable for its choreographed dancing… and not much else. Saddled with a schmaltzy soap opera-type script and real ballet dancers with little acting experience, “Center Stage” is a barely tolerable behind-the-scenes drama that takes place in a top ballet school, and will probably garner interest (and patience) only from fans of the art form…
Anthony Leong, Media Circus
…Too many misleading messages about acceptable teenage behavior dims the lights for CENTER STAGE and earn a moderately objectionable rating.
Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…It’s so predictable, you can set your watch to when the bulimic will sneak away to the bathroom… Stage does boast one unique trait: Someone behind this tatty tutu-and-tights tale… is guilty of a serious foot fetish.
Susan Wloszczyna, USA Today
…1 use of the “f” word …other profanities and colorful phrases… sexually charged… dances …The film also benefits from avoiding the trappings that have plagued many musical and subsequent ‘dance movies’ since then, and those are the moments where characters drop what they’re doing and suddenly break into song and/or dance to express their feelings…
…uneven, mildly entertaining divertissement that relies on audience tolerance for a tale that recycles rather than reinvents familiar ideas, with only a few interesting variations…