Anytime a movie is made with non-actors in the lead roles, the end result can be bumpy at best. The dance movie "Center Stage" features a cast of professional dancers who can sort of act, along with a few actors who can sort of dance. The result is a 115-minute movie about passion, heart and the ugliness that happens to your feet when you dance on your toes.
"Center Stage" begins with a ragtag bunch of ballet dancers being accepted to the world-renown, yet fictitious, American Ballet Academy. Our heroine is Jody Sawyer, a dancer with plenty of heart but uncooperative feet. Her roommates are tough girl Eva and stuck-up star of the school Maureen. Jody also meets a male dancer named Charlie, who develops an instant crush on her. As classes begin, Jody quickly realizes that her dancing skills aren't as polished as her classmates.
As Jody struggles to meet the expectations of her teachers, she becomes smitten with Cooper. He's a world-renown dancer with the scruffy hair and attitude of a rebel. He constantly clashes with Jonathan, the head of the ballet school. He and Jody sleep together and she promptly starts embarrassing herself all over school by mooning after him. Meanwhile, Eva continues fighting with teachers and Maureen begins dating a medical student named Jim, but his questioning of her eating disorder causes her to break up with him.
As the end of the school year approaches, students begin worrying over who will be cast in the end-of-the-year workshop. Students who have starring roles in this performance generally are offered professional dance jobs, while everyone else apparently goes home crying. Jonathan is organizing the main event of the workshop, a performance of "Swan Lake." Maureen is cast as the star, but her love of dance is fading. Meanwhile, Jody and Charlie are cast as the leads of a modern performance that Cooper is staging. When the third lead is injured, Cooper takes over his part.
Happily Ever After
When the night of the workshop arrives, the auditorium is packed. As "Swan Lake" begins, everyone is confused to see Eva in the lead role instead of Maureen. In a tearful fight with her mother, Maureen confesses that she doesn't want to dance anymore. She and Jim make up. During Cooper's dance, Jody stuns the crowd with a passionate and energetic performance. Afterward, Eva and Charlie are offered roles in the American Ballet Company, while Jody decides to join Cooper's new dance company. At the after party, Jody and Charlie kiss. The movie ends with shots of Maureen in college and the rest of the dancers in their new jobs.
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