Let's Dance!

So-so acting, great dance sequences.

"Centre Stage" seems to almost follow the footprints of the movie "Fame". The venue is the American Ballet Academy and the film is based on the conflict between Jonathan (Peter Gallagher), the American Ballet Company's former dancer and present artistic director, and Cooper (Ethan Stiefel), the Company's soloist.

"Centre Stage" delves into the lives of a group of newcomers enrolled in the Academy, all of them vying to eventually make it to one of the six places offered by the Company. There's Jody (Amanda Schull), who eventually surprises her teachers who had advised her to leave because of her lack of technique and wrong body type. Then there's Eva (Zoe Saldana), the outspoken Latina who antagonises Jonathan but is eventually able to prove herself because of Maureen (Susan May) whom she had earlier labeled as a bitch. Finally there's Maureen, a brilliant bulimic dancer who has the "feet" but not the "heart" who is continuously egged on by her mother Nancy (Debra Monk), the Company's publicist and a frustrated dancer. There's also Charlie (Sascha Radetsky), a charming sincere dancer from Seattle and Jim (Eion Bailey), a pre-med student and Maureen's boyfriend.

"Centre Stage" takes us through a journey on the rigours, joys and heartbreak of being an aspiring ballerina. It stresses on the fact that more than talent, it is your love for dancing that can make you a truly great dancer.

Carol Heikkinen's script has no obvious shades of greatness. At many places, the dialogue is almost predictable. However, the characters are nicely etched, though a little stereotyped. Also the movie flows well, director Hytner has done a decent job.

The dances are filmed brilliantly. Besides pure ballet, there are also other styles of dancing featured. While the standard of dancing in this movie is of a high standard, unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the acting, which is quite poor. The film boasts of an excellent soundtrack. Watch out for the track "If I Was The One".

On the whole, a very watchable film, if not for the story then at least for the fine dancing it showcases.

This article was first published on 20 Sep 2000.