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By Susannah Breslin | May 5, 2001

Life doesn’t hold try-outs–at least, that’s what the “Center Stage” poster says. It’s unclear whether anyone involved in casting this teen-ballerina flick did either. While movie reviewers like to throw around the line, “This is the worst movie I’ve ever seen,” this movie may be the worst movie I’ve ever seen. It is so bad, it actually made me realize that life doesn’t hold try-outs and I should use my time doing better things than watching “Center Stage.”
What passes for a plot here is a story line involving a dorm full of aspiring tu-tu-wearers at what purports to be the top ballerina factory in the country. Amanda Schull is Jody as The Girl Next Door, and let’s just say an actress whose last gig was when she was a kid and whose most recent dancing job was as a ballet-corps member isn’t all that impressive when she’s spittin’ dialogue or shakin’ her booty. Other wanna-be’s trying to make a big splash in the school’s year end dance-a-thon so they’ll be chosen by the supposed top ballet company in the country include: Susan May Pratt (“Drive Me Crazy”) as The Girl Who Can Barely Stop Bingeing and Barfing Long Enough to Practice Her Pirouettes, Zoe Saldana (“Law and Order”) as The Sassy Token Black Girl With Attitude Who Eventually Catches a Break From a White Girl, and Peter Gallagher (“American Beauty”) as The Bossy Academy Head Who Somehow Doesn’t Get Turned On By All the Teenybopper Tail Shimmying Around Him.
The kids encounter what are supposed to be life’s challenges–getting laid and getting dumped, being a fattycakes vs being a skeletor, trying to have a good time but ending up with a big hangover the next day–as everyone dances around intermittently while obsessing endlessly about who’ll make the cut in the end. Who cares. What with all the bad dancing and bad acting, the only thing the audience wants is for the show to come to an end. While previous dance films have left the acting to actors and the dancing to dancer doubles (“Flashdance”), the attempt here to find individuals who can do both ends up making you cringe more than having to watch basketballer Ray Allen put down the ball and spit lines in Spike Lee’s “He Got Game.”
Ultimately, “Center Stage” is nothing more than an after school special writ large which reaches its peak in a final dance number featuring the first ever teen-ballet-porn that includes a three-way, a lot of dry humping, and a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Trust me, you don’t want to know. Nicholas Hynter (“The Object of My Affection,” “The Crucible”) should be ashamed. I am, and I didn’t even make the damn movie.

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