A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that one dancer collapses in tears from an injury. The movie depicts the intense pressure that women dancers are under to achieve an ideal body type; no mention is made of the similar pressures that afflict their male colleagues. One of the male dancers is gay. The star ballerina is under plenty of parental pressure and suffers from bulimia. The head of the ballet school married one of his students (despite a substantial age gap). One f-word and some mild bathroom and sexual language. Jodie and her under-age buddies go out drinking and end up with serious hangovers (a "problem" that's played for laughs). Many of the dancers smoke. Maureen's mom pushes her constantly to "be the best." Jodie has sex with the male star dancer, who sleeps around. A Russian student dances torridly with an older woman he picks up in a salsa club. An off-color joke about a mouse having its way with an elephant is lame and unnecessary. A sexual pas-de-deux involves some writhing around on a bed, and Jodi strips down to a costume that looks like a bra and panties.
What's the story?
A combination of high-stakes drama, sweet-natured characters, and bravado performances, CENTER STAGE follows a group of teen ballet dancers during their stressful tryouts for the prestigious American Ballet Academy. Along with great dancing, the film portrays an honest look at the less glamorous side of professional dance and follows the behind-the-scenes soap opera stories of the dancers. A number of the dancers can't resist the city's nightlife and are chastised for being hung over at an early morning rehearsal. Maureen deals with her pushy stage mother. Cooper (Ethan Stiefel), the bad boy, seduces Jody (Amanda Schull). During a dress rehearsal, male lead Erik collapses in pain from an injury and his career hangs in the balance. Several girls struggle with their body types and especially their weight -- one is banished from the program for her healthy appetite.
Is it any good?
Young dance fans looking for a movie to call their own need look no further. Center Stage features lots of cool jazz and modern moves, but it also provides beautiful footage of traditional (and not-so-traditional) ballet. Cast in its leading roles are some excellent dancers, particularly Ethan Stiefel as Cooper, whose performance in "Stars and Stripes Forever" is truly amazing.
Although the dancing looks more than impressive to any lay viewer, it must be said that the choreography will probably strike professional dancers as unoriginal, emphasizing showmanship over artistry (think Flashdance).
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