Movies

Early 2000s Dance Battle: Center Stage vs. Save the Last Dance

Movies about dancing!

While we are all staying home and social distancing, let’s keep our eyes on what’s important: movies about dancing. Which one is more “on pointe”? In this installment, I compare the elements of each movie and make the definitive call.

Center Stage, 2000, Columbia Pictures

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Lead: Amanda Schull plays Jody Sawyer, a neurotic white girl whose insecurities almost keep her from achieving her dancing dreams.

Plot at a Glance: A group of hopeful dancers quip back and forth and try to overcome individual stresses.

Setting: American Ballet Academy (fictional), New York City

Iconic Song Scene: “Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai. Give me a couple of days, and I’ll be giving tutorials for this one on my Tik Tok.

Standout Supporting Actor: Zoe Saldana, duh. She’ll smoke cigs and wear a different color leotard if she wants to, tyvm. She pirouetted herself out of this movie right into Star Lord’s arms. Who is the worst father figure, Peter “you don’t have the ideal body type” Gallagher or “gonna kill my adopted daughter for a soul stone” Thanos ?

Fun Fact: This was Zoe Saldana’s film debut.

Where to Watch: Center Stage is currently streaming on Netflix.


 

Save the Last Dance, 2001, MTV Productions

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Lead: Julia Stiles plays Sara Johnson, a neurotic white girl whose insecurities almost keep her from achieving her dancing dreams.

Plot at a Glance: Everyone’s favorite dude in south side Chicago helps Julia Stiles get her groove on just in time for her final audition for Juilliard.

Setting: Chicago

Iconic Song Scene: Sara and Derek work it out at everyone’s favorite dance club STEPPS to Ice Cube’s “You Can Do It.” Yes, yes you can.

Standout Supporting Actor: While I would love to say Kerry Washington, this one goes to Sean Patrick Thomas. As a teacher, I respect his patience and methodology in transforming a reluctant learner into a hip hop queen.

Fun Fact: Director Thomas Carter cast Julia Stiles in the role of Sara after seeing her “table dance” in 10 Things I Hate About You.

Where to Watch: Looks like you have to pay around three bucks for this one right now. Worth every penny.

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While the ending dance sequence is nothing short of epic, it physically pained me to watch Center Stage‘s Jody Sawyer pine over that tiny arrogant nutcracker. Save the Last Dance wins by a mile with a far-superior soundtrack. Also, shoutout to Chenille (Kerry Washington) for absolutely crushing the single mom game.

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