I have broken every rule there is. I picked a RV that I hadn’t seen. PLUS it was a made-for-TV sequel. I don’t know that we have a rule against sequels or made-for-TV films, so maybe I just broke the one rule we have.

Anyway, I made Brooke watch the Lifetime sequel to 2000’s dance classic Center Stage. Let’s hear it. How mad were you when you realized it was a Lifetime Original? And what did you think of our selection?

B: Listen, here’s the thing. I know I cracked a heap of Lifetime jokes while we were watching, but Lifetime movies are amazing in one very distinct way. They are, without fail, so bad that they can only be considered incredible. I had a fantastic time watching this terrible, terrible movie. And while its low quality is a bit of an affront, it was also the thing that kept me there from start-to-finish five minutes in-to-five minutes before the end.

Dun dun dunnnn

Before I really get into Center Stage: On Pointe, I just want to take a brief moment to note that even the DVR couldn’t believe this movie was a real thing, and therefore cut off the beginning and the end. So, if we missed some of the finer nuances of the picture, it’s not entirely due to the bad writing, poor acting or generally low production value, it’s also lack of context.

Let me see if I can accurately describe the plot here. Our heroine is a streetwise modern dancer who wants to make it on her own terms. I cannot for the life of me remember her name. But, I do remember that she has a big sister who is SUPER beloved in the ballet world — I mean, people wear t-shirts of that girl! — and whatsherface goes by a pseudonym because she doesn’t want her sister’s name coloring people’s impression of who she is. Whatsherface goes to a big try out where Sandy Cohen and a mean dance lady and the love interest from Center Stage, Charlie?, are picking recruits to go to a dance camp.

IF the dancers get selected for camp, they’ll spend six weeks in the woods trying to master modern dance AND ballet. At the end of the camp, they’ll audition with their partner, a very select few will be welcomed into The Company, and the others, well, won’t. The Company, Sandy Cohen, Charlie and a few callbacks are our only real links to the first movie, by the way. Anywho, Whatsherface becomes the unlikely last person selected for camp, immediately gets off on the wrong foot and is basically the worst person there at dancing. She’s paired with an aloof ballet stud who DOESN’T DANCE FOR FUN. Bro is too cool to dance by a fire. So you know, both are broken in their own way. She befriends a girl with a reputation as a backstabber and generally rallies her few close friends (basically the only other performers with speaking lines, cause: budget). As expected, drama ensues and challenges arise, and then comes the dare-to-be-great moment.

raccoon ballet

Okay, AM, did I miss anything? Also, I’m dying to know, as a Center Stage devotee, how did Center Stage: On Pointe work for you?

A: I generally have a hard time remembering character names, and this is no exception. I am going to cheat and consult with IMDB/Google and the main character’s name is… BELLA! Thanks Google. Let’s call her Bella from here on out instead of Whatsherface, only because she didn’t completely bug me. Could she act? No. But she was charming.

Overall, you’ve nailed the plot. It’s by-the-book and that’s what I would have expected of a Lifetime movie, if only I’d known it was a Lifetime movie ahead of time. Back in September, I spotted the title on the TV’s guide and hit “record,” neither noting the channel or the “record this show 5 minutes early/late” feature that comes in very handy because no TV network actually begins and ends programming on time. But back to the plot.

One key thing you’re missing is why Bella, a modern dancer with no training (did we miss her training montage in the beginning?) would even show up for the prestigious American Ballet Company audition in the first place? Modern dance does not equal the years and years of ballet training, no matter how good you are. Years of watching So You Think You Can Dance have taught me that, at least.

so you think you can dance

Well, the venerable ABC (a fictional stand-in for the real-life American Ballet Theatre in New York) wants to literally get modern. You see, young people don’t like ballet or opera or other stodgy old forms of “entertainment,” they want to see twerking! So the premise of our sequel is that ABC is bringing itself to modern times by auditioning ballet dancers who have an aptitude for modern movements and modern dancers who could learn to dance en pointe. Why don’t they just teach the highly-trained ballerinas and ballerinos (Google also tells me this is a real, actual term for male ballet dancers, yay!) some modern movements? That’s just one of the many, many questions we had about this plot.

Another key question is why the paired dancers must live and die by each other. They are partnered, naturally, with an “opposite,” ostensibly so they can help each other out with strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps it’s a “if one gets in both gets in” situation to avoid sabotage? Like, ballerino, don’t trip your modern dance lady partner because if she goes down, YOU GO DOWN?

Yet another is one you pointed out, Brooke, is why Bella’s partner (who tries to kiss her almost immediately because you can’t have Lifetime without smoochies) Damon refused to “get loose” and would NOT freaking dance by the fire with everyone else? At least he wasn’t Evil Ivan who couldn’t listen to a simple “don’t do that jump, you’re not ready” rule and breaks his leg as a result. Instant Karma: that’s another Lifetime hallmark.

Brooke, did you enjoy that Bella’s roommate was only really a character for about half of the film? Do you have a favorite dance sequence? I must admit, I’ve always enjoyed watching modern dance, which is why I watched SYTYCD for so many seasons. It’s fun, it’s free and I feel like if I became only slightly more flexible I could attempt it.

I went to IMDB to find the punny quote we were chuckling about and I have discovered something quite serious.

WE MISSED THE FIRST SEQUEL.

shock

I repeat: THERE IS A CENTER STAGE MOVIE WE MISSED. IT FEATURES KATE PARKER. THIS IS WHY WE WERE CONFUSED ABOUT THE HYPE AROUND KATE. I don’t even know what to do with my life anymore, so I’m going to throw this back to Brooke and we will sort through the fallout as we go. Whoa.

B: I AM LESS PREPARED FOR THE NEWS THAT THERE IS ANOTHER OF THESE MOVIES THAN I WAS FOR THE NEWS THAT SPEIDI HAVE PROCREATED. How? Why? Is Sandy Cohen in that movie too? For the record, I am only voicing these questions because I know you so well, and I’m already well aware that you’re definitely going to make us watch this movie. But, let’s save our questions about Kate Parker for that occasion.

For now, I want to to answer your queries and call attention to some of the astounding things that happened in this movie.

As to the question of Bella’s roommate, I am baffled that she just vanished half-way though the movie, like, did she go to another project and they had to revise the script on the fly? Or did they have two sort of halves of two movies and they just threw them in a blender and came up with this, and I use the term loosely, narrative?

I think my favorite dance sequence was when Damon finally let loose with that modern dance and got expressive all over the studio. It must have upset Bella that he went from zero to hero at modern in about two seconds, while she got dropped roughly one billion times trying to master some ballet basics. AM, which routine was your favorite? And, I know you’re dying to share, what was your favorite dancer look?

dance fashion

A: Sandy Cohen is in the other, yes. I didn’t look too deeply, but it came out in 2008, also features a female heroine who’s the “unlikely” sort to be a ballerina (shocking), but it does appear to have been a theatrical release! I can’t wait. I am officially sorry, but not that much. I had no idea how far down the rabbit hole we’d need to go.

Back to the task at hand.

I loved when Bella was dancing by herself, sort of getting the hang of that whole ballet thing, when the Mean, Injured & Bitter Dance Instructor tells her she’ll never amount to ANYTHING as a ballerina and Bella’s all, “YOU get out, I’M practicing.” Burn. Plus she was actually looking like she knew what she was doing! Like Brooke, I enjoyed when Damon got a hang of the modern dance thing, and it’s a shame that I can’t find the pun quote anywhere! I might have to salvage the DVR recording to find it. It was something about “feels” and Damon’s magical transformation seems to have happened at about the same time as that silly line.

Speaking of silly lines, we have found the new silliest bit of dialogue in the universe. Let me elaborate:

Dancer 1 answers a knock on her door. Dancer 2 is revealed and says, “Hi, it’s me!”

hi it's me

NOTE: We can see both women once the door opens. Was this conversation supposed to be a phone call in version 1 of the script? History will never know the true story, but we cannot emphasize enough that this was the silliest part of a very silly plot. All I know is I’m going to start saying that when I am at people’s doors.

Dance fashion! Well, it’s certainly not Bella’s hole-y leggings. I get what they’re doing there, but come on. Leggings aren’t that expensive. Target has really nice ones for like $30. I loved what the “backstabber” was wearing pretty much at all times (SPOILER ALERT: SHE WASN’T REALLY A BACKSTABBER) because she was emulating the “perfect” dancer with the cute outfits, but her closet was cute.

Back to you, Brooke, what’s the best fashion, and also, what did you think of our OG cast sprinkled throughout? Hi. It’s me.

B: Ugh, no, AM. It’s me. Anyway, I think I actually liked Bella’s fashion the most. You know I deeply love Rachel McAdam’s aggressive lounge clothes in The Family Stone and I respect that Bella sticks with what works. There’s also a certain punk rock edge to wearing hole-y clothes to a snooty ballet camp. So props from me.

As for the original cast, they felt pretty token to me. This story was weak at best and the links to some of the key players from the cast were sloppy. If these movies were quite different movies than they are, I would call these appearances fan service, but I think in this case it’s mostly a way for some of them to make rent for another few years. We don’t really see Charlie do much at all in the way of teaching, and our OG heroine is nothing more than a name-drop explanation. And as for Sandy Cohen, he gets a couple scenes as the “cool” judge who sees things in people. I would almost have rather had none of them, perchance then more money could have gone to the script, or at least a script supervisor to try and put this little choo-choo back on the track.

Alright AM. I think we’ve nearly exhausted what can be said about Center Stage: On Pointe, but before we go, I have a challenge for you. As the resident expert, what do you think will happen in the all-important, newly discovered Center Stage 2?

A: Side note: We have determined that both of us would make super awesome script supervisors, so perhaps we could volunteer (for money) to work on the next installment? Great attention to detail, bossy nature and the blessing/curse of being always right! Consider this post an open invitation for people to call or carrier pigeon us for this gig.

I concur that the OG cast were basically wasted, Sandy Cohen at least got some lines, but there’s not much there except for cameos without the benefit of having a sight or verbal gag to make their presence worth it.

sandy cohen

I won’t say much about the plot of the newly discovered Center Stage 2 because I read an IMDB synopsis already. As you can imagine, Bella’s sister Kate is the center of the story and because we can’t not have Center Stage without unlikely ballerinas, Kate hails from the “mean streets” of Detroit. Presumably no one thinks she can make it, but she can and she does! We probably don’t even need to watch it, except that we should and we will.

 


 

Next time we’re watching a beloved cult favorite that will take us back to the last day of school in 1976. Probably everyone but Annemarie knows what that means.

About Annemarie Moody Miller

We Write Things Co-Scribbler-in-Chief. Wordsmith. Globetrotter. Shark Enthusiast. Denver Native. I like to write and read all the things.

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