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Center Stage

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Center Stage

Starring: Susan May Pratt, Peter Gallagher
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 113 Minutes
Release Date: May 2000
Genres: Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Eion Bailey, Donan Murphy, Zoe Saldana, Amanda Schull, Debra Monk, Sascha Radetsky, Ethan Stiefel

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1.  Susan Granger review follows movie reviewvideo review
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Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4

Think "Fame" meets "The Turning Point" or "The Red Shoes" and you have the concept of this backstage story set at Lincoln Center's prestigious and, at times, pretentious American Ballet Theater. Directed by Nicholas Hytner ("The Madness of King George," "The Crucible"), it's filled with enthusiasm and good intentions, offering a glimpse into the demanding world of ballet, complete with bruises and bandages. Amanda Schull stars as a beautiful, blue-eyed blond with "bad feet" who temporarily pirouettes into the affections of Ethan Stiefel, a principal dancer with the ABT who could be the next Mikhail Barishnikov. They're surrounded by stereotypical "A Chorus Line"-types - the bulimic prodigy (Susan May Pratt) with a pushy mother (Debra Monk), the edgy rebel (Zoe Saldana) with a bad attitude, the best-friend (Shakiem Evans), the romantic (Sascha Radetsky), the Russian (ice-skating champion Ilia Kulik) and faculty members (Peter Gallagher, Donna Murphy). It's all very familiar: there are six spots in the company to be filled - who will get them? And the screenplay by Carol Heikkinen ("The Thing Called Love," "Empire Records") is corny, filled to the brim with cliches. It's hard not to chuckle at: "I'm not dancing for them anymore - I'm dancing for me." Make no mistake: this no "Dirty Dancing" or "Flashdance." Yet there's aerobic jazz and salsa, as well as the classic tradition of Tchiakovsky and Prokofiev. To me, the highlights were Stiefel's performing "Stars and Stripes," choreographed by George Balanchine, and the hip finale, set to the rock music of Michael Jackson. Basically, this is TV fare that will probably be far more satisfying on video. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Center Stage" is a graceful 4. But it's the dancing that scores, not the drama.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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