I Rewatched ‘Center Stage’ & It’s Even Messier Than I Remembered
There is no debating that the 2000 ballet drama Center Stage is one of the greatest dance movies of all time.
In fact, we even crowned it runner-up in our ranking of the best dance films. The movie has everything. Drama. Romance. Deception. And I’m only talking about Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows.
But for real, this film offers up some of the most iconic dance sequences ever and we don’t even deserve it. I thought it was time for me to give the movie another spin.
I rewatched Center Stage and here’s my extremely accurate summary!
We jump right into the action as we meet our lead girl, Jody, who is trying out for the American Ballet Academy. She dances her little heart out as we overhear one of the teachers say “Not enough turn out, bad feet!”, before the other male teacher tells her “But look at her!” because being hot is important and we should never forget it. NEVER.
You can probably guess which opinion held the most weight. Jody got into ABA despite being apparently awful. Dream big, kids.
At another audition round we meet Eva, aka Zoe Saldana, who got into the school and is very angry about it! Ummm, why bother auditioning or dedicating all those years of training? She contemplates working at Hooters instead which makes sense, only it does not.
Jody arrives to school and immediately meets famous ballerina and low-key thotty Cooper. He offers to help with her bags, she says no and then calls herself an idiot. I agree. Always get men to carry your bags. Always.
We learn Jody is sharing a room with Eva and Maureen, the film’s sympathetic villain. Charlie, Erik and Sergei round out the rest of the crew and they all head to practice.
They do weird shit to their ballet shoes. I guess it’s some type of ritual. Not sure if the fire is necessary.
The school’s head is Peter Gallagher: he and his eyebrows arrive to class. His character’s name is Jonathan and he is mean. We know this because he wears his shirt rolled up and because he says words that aren’t nice.
He tells his students that most will never make it as a dancer and they all need to ‘clarify their expectations’, which is basically what I say to myself after every bad Tinder date.
Eva is being sassy and chewing gum! She is wearing the wrong coloured leotard and her hair is in her face like a wild animal. This angers Peter Gallagher and his eyebrows.
Ballet teacher Juliette tells Jody that she sucks and that she ‘needs to concentrate on her turnout’ which is ballet speak for ‘you’re trash, don’t even breathe near me’.
The ladies swoon over Charlie because… because umm… he looks sickly and pale?
It must just be because he’s straight. That’s the only way I can make sense of this.
The students go to watch a performance with Cooper in it. A waiter hits on Maureen, and then follows her home with a tray of pastries which is creepy but also a sex fantasy of mine.
Back at class, Eva is sassing Peter Gallagher. When he asks if she feels she’s improving she serves him with…
The eyebrows have never been angrier.
Jody continues to be a rubbish ballerina. She is called into a meeting and told she’s not improving and the school threatens to kick her out.
Again, she is lambasted for her BAD FEET. Get a pedicure, bitch. Sort yourself out.
Maureen’s stalker returns, waiting out the front of school. Oh good. She learns he is a student at Columbia and is studying to be a doctor so all of a sudden she is keen as mustard.
The rest of the group go to some salsa club, dance the night away and all get very lit.
Me when I spot a fuckboi on the dance floor with floppy hair and a lip ring:
Maureen goes on a date with the guy and his friends, they tell terrible dad jokes and eat pizza and this is apparently the life she has been missing. Her and the stalker doctor kiss before she…err, goes home and vomits up her dinner.
THIS MOVIE HURTS MY SOUL.
To get out of her funk, Jody joins a dancing class but specifies she wants to do “anything but ballet”. The class warm-up by gyrating their genitals at each other. It’s all very sexual as the men and women ogle each other’s loins.
Cooper is there and yeah, I’m just going to let this GIF speak for itself:
My eyes are definitely not drawn to any particular area. I am a lady after all.
After the sex dance workshop, Cooper offers to take Jody to go riding on his motorbike. Ummm firstly, who would want to go on a date after a dance class?! This is when you are as sweaty as possible but also he offers dessert, so sure.
He takes her home but where is the DESSERT????? Oh, the dessert is code for sex. I get it. Smooth.
If her post-coital facial expression is anything to go by, I don’t think the sex was good tbh.
Back at class, they all learn which production they’ve been cast in with Erik, Charlie and Jody chosen to star in Cooper’s show.
Eva gets cast in a shitty part at the back of show and she is shitty. Erik comforts her before the gang all go out for his birthday. They catch a limousine to go on a ferry and umm, yeah I don’t know what to make of that.
Jody is practising ballet on the boat like a big dork. Charlie talks to her in this weird baby voice. He asks her on a date but she says she’s ” kind of seeing someone.” Custard pie right in the face and I hate to see it.
Back in class, Charlie quickly realises that Cooper is the dude she’s talking about and they fight over Jody via ballet jumps. It’s all very exciting.
In the next scene, Jody visits Cooper’s performance and stands at side stage. He snaps “What are you doing here?” She showers him with compliments and he ignores her. To be fair he is literally in the middle of a performance while she’s trying to have a casual chinwag.
Either way he’s not very nice. But then back in class, he is all over her. She gets angry and picks a fight leading to Cooper yelling at her. Jody leaves in tears and Charlie comforts her and even though he’s a big baby…
I MUST STAN CHARLIE.
Maureen boyfie tells her that he knows she’s bulimic…they have a big fight, she storms out, yelling at him “I’m the best goddamn dancer in the American Ballet Academy, who the hell are you?”.
At rehearsals, Erik falls over while practising so Cooper decides he will fill his place. Maureen realises she hates ballet after she wished she was the one that got injured.
It’s performance time! Cooper tries to mansplain ballet to Jody and she says “I know” about 600 times. Peter Gallagher’s ballet begins and BITCH THAT AIN’T MAUREEN. Instead, it’s Eva in her place.
Okay, I have questions Center Stage must answer:
- Surely she would have an understudy for this very purpose?
- Are you allowed to just pick a random person without your teacher’s permission?
- How does Eva know Maureen’s part when she wasn’t her understudy?
- Who is playing Eva’s role in the ensemble?
- Why do I care so much and demand all these answers?
This would just never happy IRL but I’m okay living this fantasy because Eva is so bloody exquisite in this role. Fuck me up, Zoe. You’re a star.
Maureen’s mum storms out and attacks Maureen, who tells her “I don’t want to be a ballet dancer” and says she is bulimic. The mum replies “You watch your weight, there’s nothing wrong with that!”
THIS MOVIE IS NOT HEALTHY. NOT AT ALL.
In the end, Maureen storms off and all power to her. It’s time for Cooper’s ballet and we know it’s DANGEROUS and SEXY because he rolls in on a motherfukin’ motorbike.
Then he and Jody have BALLET SEX. I think that’s what this is…
I’m a virgin but have always assumed most heterosexual sex begins with the girl doing the splits over the guy’s naked torso.
Anyways enough about me…Charlie and Cooper have another ballet fight which turns into the two boys literally fighting over poor Jody, pulling her arms like a ragdoll.
HELL NO. It’s time for a costume change. A costume change that will alter the face of cinema forever. A costume change that makes absolutely no sense.
I just don’t know how she went from the left look to the right. When did she change her dress, shoes and hair?!?
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN. I CAN’T SLEEP AT NIGHT.
Oh well, the entire performance is fucking boss and iconic. Straight after the show, the teachers usher in the students to tell them if they made it into the program.
They scold Eva and she yells at Peter Gallagher… he then offers her a spot as a member of the company. She replies “Are you nuts?” I BLOODY THINK SO.
Erik gets in even though he didn’t actually perform. OKAY, SURE.
Cooper tells Jody that he is going to open his own company and offers her a spot as a principal which leads to Jody rejecting the ABA. When Jody tells Cooper the news, he tries to kiss her. She stops him, telling him “as a boyfriend you kind of suck.”
She runs over to Charlie and asks him on a date, they kiss and Cooper errr… claps?
It’s a happy ending for basically everyone but what this movie has truly taught me is to spontaneously pirouette away from men that treat women as prizes to be won.
Center Stage is the greatest and I will not hear a bad word about it.