Retro Review: Center Stage

Can a little film like Center Stage bring the masses into the world of ballet?

Appealing to the ever growing teen market, “Center Stage” focuses on a sextuplet of fresh faces who so desperately want to be apart of the American Ballet Association’s Troupe.

Center Stage is the “pop” version of ballet. The audience is never bogged down with technique and never really gets the allure that is ballet. What it does get bogged down in is how many stereotypes the script actually dwells on. It’s very hard to see when one stops and another begins. Where is the grace and beauty associated with this classic art form?

And why is the classic form so devilish? I remember the film, “Dancers” and I wonder what it would have been like if you would have seen a cast like this in a film like that. A beautiful twenty-something cast in a real movie that discovers the allure, grace and magic of ballet. Now that would be ballet.

The final dance number to close the film draws on a lot of Hollywood influences but does make me wonder if companies actually take the risks seen here. Is ballet actually becoming more geared towards a Broadway feel? It is quite interesting blending the two. They have done it to figure-skating, why not bring it to ballet.

To get to the guts of “Center Stage” it might be good to talk about a couple of the stand-out performances. The only recognizable face to my knowledge in the cast was Peter Gallagher from “While You Were Sleeping”.

He plays the villain who can’t help but be a bore. His character tries to do what’s best for the troupe and stick with traditional dance. For that he is laughed at and mocked by the new generation. Can you really say this is a villain?

My favorite performance was from new-comer Amanda Schull who played a wonderful innocent girl trying to do all she can to follow her dream. It’s hard in your motion picture debut to actually breathe life into a shallow character like the one presented to her here.

Drawing from her background as a ballerina, Schull brings a lot of feeling to her performance especially in her dancing. I hope to see more of her.

What I can suggest about Center Stage is that you should bring your teenage daughters because this is for them. It has the music, the chemistry and even the beautiful morale “Follow your dream”. It’s a pure message and it’s a film parents can take their daughters to.

(2.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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