9 Things You Need to Know About 'Center Stage' for Your Next Binge-Watch
Updated: May 12
It's hard to believe that Center Stage is celebrating its 20th anniversary on May 12, 2020. The small film with a modest budget was intended to be a teen-romance genre movie. Instead, it became a cult classic that has been watched countless times by dance fans.
Whether you've watched the film once or 945830459834095 times like we have, here are some fun facts about the film you need to know. If you haven't seen the movie yet, what are you waiting for? A dance film is the best way to spend the weekend.
1. Film debut:
This was the first film ever for stars Amanda Schull, who played Jody Sawyer, and Zoe Saldana, who played Eva. Both of them have gone on to great success after the film's release. Amanda was a series regular on Suits and Zoe recently worked on the Avatar franchise films.
The film hired four professional dancers — Amanda Schull from San Francisco Ballet and Ethan Stiefel, Julie Kent and Sascha Radetsky from the American Ballet Theatre. Zoe Saldana trained in her youth at ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy and Ilia Kulik was a gold-medal-winning Olympian in figure skating. A dance double was used for Susan May Pratt.
3. Tiny budget:
The film only had an $18 million dollar budget, which is tiny in Hollywood terms. It went on to earn $26 million at the box office. That's a great recoupment of the studio's investment.
The reason Center Stage wasn't "just" a teen movie is because of director Sir Nicholas Hytner. He's well known on the Broadway stage for directing Miss Saigon, Sweet Smell of Success, The History Boys and Fela! Sir Hytner knew how to give us dance drama.
5. Mediocre reviews:
How dare they? The critics clearly didn't see the masterpiece we all saw. It only has a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but we know the truth. I would like to thank The Village Voice's Elizabeth Zimmer for giving us this delicious quote, though, "Nicholas Hytner's movie might be subtitled Beverly Hills 90210 Goes to Juilliard."
Susan Stroman did all of that delicious choreography, including the epic final dance scene with the red tutu and pointe shoes. There was a ballet consultant on set to make sure the ballet school scenes were as accurate as possible. That was handled by American Ballet Theatre's Artistic Director, Kevin McKenzie.
Stroman was in the middle of rehearsing the Broadway show, Contact, so the cast of the show was a part of the "Higher Ground" scene. Look carefully, you might spot So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Warren Carlyle in there!
7. Appreciate the fouetté:
If you think that fouetté scene is hard, listen to Amanda Schull herself... it was exhausting.
“It was all one take, but we did several takes of that one take. I think it was maybe four or five in the morning after having filmed [and danced] for more than 15 hours," she told Fashion Magazine. "I kept doing the fouettés over and over and because I was so tired. Whenever I pulled in for the final pirouettes, my leg gave out on me and I fell a few times. I was aiming to finish with a triple, and my body just wouldn’t obey me.”
8. Two sequels:
Photo credit: Lifetime.
There was more than one sequel to the original movie. The first sequel, Center Stage: Turn It Up, was released in 2008 on the Oxygen channel. The second film, Center Stage: On Pointe, was released in 2016 on Lifetime and Dance Moms OG star Chloe Lukasiak was a part of the cast.
9. "I Want to Be with You":
Mandy Moore's love ballad was used in the film and Sascha Radetsky starred in the music video! Enough said.