Cooper Nielson From ‘Center Stage’ Can Go Straight To Hell
Center Stage is a perfect movie.
It’s one of the best dance movies ever made, gifted us a fire dance sequence that truly defied all rhyme and reason, and it taught me an important lesson that I still apply to my daily life: “Just dance the shit out of it!” I do. I really do.
But while Center Stage gave a lot of good to the world, it also provided a platform for the baddest bad boy ever put to film: Cooper Nielson.
I hate Cooper Nielson. Just thinking about Cooper Nielson makes my skin crawl.
For the unfamiliar, Cooper Nielson was a principal at the fictional American Ballet Company in the film, who choreographed one of the ballets for the school’s final performance, along with hooking up with the lead, Jody Sawyer.
While I’m sure the actor who played Cooper Nielson, Ethan Stiefel, is a fine person and clearly an amazing dancer, I will forever feel nothing but disdain for him. He is Cooper Nielson.
To this day, I could recite most of Center Stage because that's how many times I've watched it.
Cooper Nielson is still a douche.
— stefanie (@withstefanie) January 23, 2019
This vision of Cooper Nielson in sweats and a headband, proudly swinging his leg back and forth, will forever live in the darkest corner of my mind, and I feel dirty.
Those loose-fitting pants should be ILLEGAL.
Group chat is popping off talking about Cooper Nielson in sweatpants
— Colleen Kelsey (@colleenkelsey) January 1, 2020
Most of Cooper Nielson’s scenes in Center Stage involve Jody, who he meets on her first day at ABC as she starts her first term of ballet lessons, under the guise of tough love teacher Jonathan Reeves (played by Peter Gallagher).
Cooper Nielson later sees Jody at a jazz dance class (the swinging leg!! the horror!!) and despite knowing she was a student, he invites her to go for err… “dessert?”, which of course is absolutely sex.
After they hook up, Cooper Nielson casts Jody as the lead in his ballet, which isn’t unethical AT ALL. Like, I could give Cooper Nielson the benefit of the doubt — before they hooked up, he wasn’t her teacher — but by putting Jody in his ballet, he truly blurs the lines of teacher/student relations. Gross.
Cooper Nielson has officially become my least favourite character of all time. I don't know how many times he has kissed his students.
— Maria Sarafina (@msarafina) July 13, 2010
Then in classic fuckboi fashion, Cooper Nielson quickly grows tired of Jody. She visits him at his performance and he couldn’t be any ruder.
We’ve all had a crush on a Cooper Nielson, who smashed our heart into a million pieces. They start out all smooth and romantic — feigning a genuine connection with you — just to get you into bed. Then they drop you completely, and when you ask for an explanation they get real nasty.
Which leads to the next scene, when Cooper Nielson speaks to Jody like absolute trash in front of her whole class. Sure, Jody was giving him attitude but it was nothing he didn’t deserve.
Thankfully, their romance quickly ended and Jody fell for the pale, sickly-looking Charlie instead.
Annoyingly, at the end of the film Jody chooses to join Cooper Nielson’s newly formed ballet school as a principal. This actually pains me, because he got what he wanted. Maybe she came to her senses, maybe Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows finally lured her back to ABC, one can only hope.
I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering whether or not Jody Sawyer really stayed a principal in Cooper Nielson’s dance company.
— Ian Fields MD (@eeyanmiller) February 3, 2020
But I can rest assured that Jody is wise and knows what kind of person Cooper Nielson is, as she tells her teacher in the final scene: “Cooper, you’re an amazing dancer, and you’re a great choreographer, but as a boyfriend… you kinda suck.”
Cooper Nielson DOES suck. Cooper Nielson is the worst.
Cooper Nielson, please pirouette your way straight into the bin where you belong.
Center Stage is available to stream on Netflix now.