Entertainment

20 Times “Center Stage” Was Truthful, According To “Ballet 422”

Ballet 422, a documentary about the New York City Ballet, proves that many parts of the beloved film Center Stage were quite accurate.

Center Stage is a 2000 movie about a (fictional) group of teenagers enrolled at the American Ballet Academy in New York City who each dream of being hired into the prestigious American Ballet Company at the end of the year-long course.

Ballet 422, which recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, is a 2014 documentary that chronicles the making of the New York City Ballet’s 422nd original piece and focuses on its creator, 25-year-old dancer and choreographer Justin Peck.

There are many — many — similarities between the two films.

1. Not that anyone was arguing this, but ballet requires a tremendous amount of hard work.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

At one point, the dancer on the left has been working for over an hour straight before the choreographer realizes and breaks for water. In Center Stage, Maureen (Susan May Pratt) and the rest of the ABA, on the right, meet for class every day of the week for multiple hours a day.

2. And dancers are not given a lot of time to learn a lot of steps.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

The man tossing the girl on the left was added just two weeks before the first curtain. Eric (Shakiem Evans), in Center Stage (right) got hurt the night before the workshop and had to be replaced by someone that had not even been rehearsing his role.

3. Choreographers also have a very hard job and have someone at their side throughout the entire process to help make adjustments and fix inaccuracies.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

Justin Peck (left), the choreographer of NYCB’s 422nd original piece, works on a routine with a fellow choreographer. In the film Jonathan, played by Peter Gallagher (right), offers notes to Juliette (Donna Murphy).

4. Choreographers often figure out the next sequence in a dance during rehearsals.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

Peck, (left), thinks about how to take a dancer out of a turn. Cooper, played by Ethan Stiefel,( right), figures out how to get Jody (Amanda Schull) onto her feet.

5. A ballerina walking “on pointe” to her awaiting partner is a common and effective entrance.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

6. So is an unfolding line.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

7. It takes two to tango.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

Most pieces have dancers working in pairs.

8. Or really, three!

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

But it is not unusual to have three main dancers work in a triangle.

9. In ballet, even the smallest movement is critiqued until it is perfect.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

Peck, (left), goes over an elbow bend multiple times with a dancer. Juliette, (right), adjusts Jody’s ribs.

10. Dancers stay in the studio late into the night practicing the same routine over and over.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

Peck, (left), is recording his steps to see what different sequences look like before teaching them to his dancers. Jody, (right), is practicing crossing the floor “on pointe” — or on her toes — over and over to perform better in class.

11. And even the best ballerinas get tripped up over certain moves.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

Peck’s lead ballerina, (left), gets stuck coming out of a turn. Eva, played by Zoe Saldana, (right), also gets stuck coming out of a turn.

12. But it isn’t strange for dancing to sometimes be just walking.*

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

*It’s definitely harder than it looks. But definitely not as hard as when they walk on their toes.

13. Dancers wrap their feet a lot before putting on ballet “slippers.”

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

Slippers is in quotes because the word slipper is often associated with comfortable footwear. Not in this case, especially when standing on your toes in them.

14. And ballerinas really do cut and tear their brand new shoes apart.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

15. They also rip and strain their feet, badly.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

16. Ballerinas do their own makeup before shows.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

17. Bright and modern sets and costumes are embraced.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

18. Right before the curtain comes up, the cast is on stage warming up.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

Listen closely from the orchestra for the pitter-patter.

19. A good ballet has a tall, dark, and handsome dancer involved.*

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

*Not necessarily, but it doesn’t hurt!

20. And in many cases, the choreographer is also a dancer.

Jody Lee Lipes

Columbia Pictures

 

Peck, (left), has one number to change out of his choreographer’s suit and into his ballet shoes. He is also a dancer in the NYCB’s Corps de Ballet, which performs the same night as his show. In Center Stage, Cooper, (right), fills in when the lead in his performance gets injured.

But the plausibility of this has yet to be discussed!

Columbia Pictures

After premiering at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, Ballet 422 currently is seeking theatrical distribution. (And someone please pick it up, because it’s wonderful.)

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