Center Stage, 13 Years Later: The Questions That Remain

Is “dance the shit out of it” really a useful mantra in an activity that prioritizes years of training, intense concentration, and technical precision more than enthusiasm?

Did you read the New Yorker‘s profile of Ethan Stiefel last year? If you got the chance to write a New Yorker profile about a cast member from a third-rate teen movie from 2000, who would you choose? I’d probably pick Robert Ri’chard from Alley Cats Strike.

How much of the movie do you think you could still quote verbatim, if you had to? Eighty percent? Ninety?

Would you really rather the be a principal in Cooper Neilson’s company or waving a rose in the back row of the ABC corps? Do you think Cooper’s company has the capital to provide health insurance? What if Jody had stayed to listen to Jonathan’s offer and he wanted to make her a principal too?

When Jody says “Cooper, you’re an amazing dancer, and you’re a great choreographer, but as a boyfriend, you kinda suck,” do you think she realizes that he was never her boyfriend? They slept together exactly once, right? And also took a hip-hop dance class together at one point? But the class was just an accidental meeting. They didn’t go to class together. So why would she think that he was her boyfriend?

When Cooper looks at Judy in the hip-hop dance class, then kicks his leg up over his head, is that flirting? Would that work on you?

Did you know that the entire film is available on YouTube?

Have you seen the sequel, Center Stage 2: Turn it Up? Did you know Peter Gallagher is in it?

That dance to the Jamiroquai song is the best, right? That makes the movie, for me. There really is nothing left to do but dance.

Did you go to a special bitch academy or something?

Did you understand the elephant and mouse joke the first time you saw it? I didn’t, but I laughed anyway. Did you know it’s also in a Bret Easton Ellis novel?

Did you mix up the mean mom from Center Stage with the mean mom from Cruel Intentions? Do you think that they might have ever met each other in mean, rich New York lady circles?

Charlie: boring and awful, right? He’d probably end up being the kind of boyfriend who goes through your phone while you’re in the shower. It couldn’t possibly work out, either, if she’s going to join Cooper’s dance company and keep dating Charlie.

Was Jody’s turnout really that bad? It didn’t look that bad. I can’t even touch my toes.

The soap fight while they’re cleaning out the practice room: fun, or not fun? They still had to clean up afterwards, right?

How many times have you wanted to say “I am the best goddamn dancer in the American Ballet Academy. Who the hell are you? Nobody” to someone? Have you ever said it?

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    • kmd

      I love all these questions… except I am 99% sure it was a jazz not hip hop class.

    • Matt Finish

      This movie pretty much dedined my teen years. The summer after it came out, I went to the ABT summer intensive, and literally every single dancer brought it with them. I have totally used that last quote, perhaps as recently as yesterday….

    • Madame X

      “If you got the chance to write a New Yorker profile about a cast member from a third-rate teen movie from 2000, who would you choose?”

      I’m sorry, but WTF? That profile is awful. Ethan Stiefel was a prolific dancer with a world-class ballet company. His Center Stage credit is probably the least important thing he’s ever done. It makes me sad that they can’t give him more respect in the New Yorker at his retirement.

      Basically, Ethan Stiefel is the best goddamn dancer in the American Ballet Theater. Who the hell are you, writer? Nobody.

      • Porkchop

        I went over the to New Yorker article, and you’re so right. That was surprising.

    • Wave

      I’d just like to say that it wasn’t a hip-hop class. It was a jazz class.

    • kj

      I still don’t get the mouse and elephant, thing…?!

      • Ruminum

        The “thorn” the elephant steps on is the mouse’s penis.

    • Lemona

      I have had “The Way You Make Me Feel” stuck in my head since I saw this movie the year it came out. Somehow ballet + motorcycles = the best context for that song.

      • Samantha Escobar


    • Eileen

      I saw this movie on the plane ride to my aunt’s wedding in 2001! I did not get any of it! (except that Maureen was bulimic)

      But as Mme. X pointed out, Ethan Stiefel (and much of the cast) was a professional ballet dancer, not an actor. As should have been made obvious by the fact that he was a fucking awesome dancer and a pretty awful actor.

    • Amy

      That one about her telling Copper that he sucked as a boyfirend is so true. I cringed when she said it, I was just a naive teen at the time and even I knew he’d never been her boyfriend.

    • toasty

      i still want to know how in the middle of a ballet performance jody managed to change outfit, make up, and hair in 5 seconds.

    • Safari

      I was a teenage figure skater when this movie came out so among my friends it was “The Ilya Kulik movie.” And yes we DID memorize it and we also waved the DVD at him when we saw him skate and he winked DIRECTLY AT ME not my friends, make no mistake, ME. And yes I was teen-figure-skating-dork famous for like a week afterwards.

    • Lotte

      Ethan Stiefel is now director of the New Zealand ballet company, and his wife is the prima ballerina. He said he joined because he wanted more creative freedom……. the similarities!! I like to imagine the NZ ballet is now directed by Cooper Neilson, it makes me happy