“Center Stage” – About this iconic movie and why we chose it for our classes in June!


Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

Written by Robyn Jutsum

June is here which means we are one step closer to Summer! As the weather warms up, life starts to open up, and we look ahead to sunnier days, we look forward to continuing to dance with all of you virtually, outdoors, and On Demand!

This month, we are shaking things up! Instead of focusing on one specific ballet in our Cardio Ballet classes, June’s theme is Center Stage, the 2000 cult classic ballet movie featuring former dancers with ABT, Dutch National Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet! Join us for Sips & Clips *Free* Virtual Happy Hour and Viewing Party on Sunday 6/13 on Zoom to watch highlights of the film!

Center Stage was directed by Nicholas Hytner and written by Carol Heikkenen. Set in New York City at the fictional American Ballet Academy (“ABA”), fashioned after the real training school, the School of American Ballet, this bunhead movie follows the life of Jody (played by actress and former member of San Francisco Ballet, Amanda Schull) and her fellow classmates as they embark in a year training at ABA.

Watch the official trailer below:


Throughout the movie, Jody and her peers face the trials and tribulations of growing up pursuing their professional aspirations in the dance industry, while also being teenagers in the Big Apple. A major plot point in the film is the love triangle Jody finds herself in. She is torn between her peer, Charlie (played by Sascha Radetsky, formerly of ABT and Dutch National Ballet), and pro dancer and choreographer, Cooper (played by Ethan Stiefel, formerly of ABT and former Artistic Director of Royal New Zealand Ballet). Other obstacles the dancers face include eating disorders, sexuality, injuries, casting, and the overarching pressure to be the best.

The all star cast is rounded out with Julie Kent (Artistic Director of Washington Ballet and former dancer with ABT), who plays a professional dancer; Zoe Saldana as Eva, one of Jody’s classmates, and Peter Gallagher as Jonathan, the artistic director of the academy. Dancers from New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre were used as extras, including Gillian Murphy, Stella Abrera, Jonathan Stafford, Jared Angle, Janie Taylor, and Rebecca Krohn. Aesha Ash, a former dancer at New York City Ballet, was used as Zoe Saldana’s body double for most of the dance scenes. This was also the film debut for both Zoe Saldana and Amanda Schull!

Excerpts from ballets such as Romeo & Juliet, Stars and Stripes, Le Corsaire, and Swan Lake are found throughout the movie. That being said, while the movie is a ballet-centric movie, there are many styles of dance and different types of ballet represented including jazz, salsa, musical theatre, and contemporary ballet. Susan Stroman choreographed for the film, winning an American Choreography Award for her contributions. Christopher Wheeldon choreographed the ballet Jonathan creates in the film.


Photo Credit: Roundtable


Photo Credit: New Yorker


Photo Credit: Rotten Tomatoes

In Cardio Ballet this month, you may learn combos inspired by the many dance scenes from Center Stage such as…

  • Jazzy movements to Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Higher Ground”
  • Cooper’s contemporary ballet in the final scenes of the movie with music including Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat,”Michael Jackson’s  “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and Ruff Endz’s “If I was the One.”
  • Jonathan’s classical ballet set to Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 ‘Adagio Sostenuto’
  • The balcony scene from Romeo & Juliet
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