Center Stage Turns 20! Here Are the Best Moments from the Iconic Dance Movie
Twenty years later and we are still thinking about Maureen telling her mom, "You didn't have the feet. I don't have the heart."
The iconic dance movie Center Stage turns 20 years old today, which means that, in ballerina years, it's just hitting its prime and still has years before it needs to retire.
The film, which was pretty much panned by critics when it made its debut, is a dance movie for the ages, filled with talent (they used real ballet dancers for the leads rather than relying on doubles for the whole cast), heart and some of the best one-liners in teen movie history.
If you haven't seen it, don't despair! You can watch it on Netflix (over and over and over again). When you're done, come back and look through our favorite moments and quotes from the 20-year-old movie. Here's a list:
Any time Cooper Nielson (played by Ethan Stiefel) moved a single muscle.
The bad boy of the American Ballet Company, it was no wonder Jody Sawyer (played by Amanda Schull) would be attracted to him.
Literally everything Maureen (played by Susan May Pratt) said.
Sure, Jody was the star of the film, but Maureen Cummings put in all the work! She had the turn out and the technique! She also had some of the best lines in the whole movie, like when she said, "I am the best goddamn dancer in the American Ballet Academy. Who the hell are you? Nobody."
But by far her best moment was when she told her mom she was done with ballet.
It's a common trope in teen movies: Overbearing parent pushes child to pursue the dream they never fulfilled, overworked child decides to stop working toward said dream, and in their big argument scene, the parent says, "You're giving up on your dream!" Then, suddenly: "No, mom! I'm giving up on yours!"
Maureen may not have invented that line, but she perfected it when she said, "I'm not you, Mom. You didn't have the feet. I don't have the heart."
What I'm trying to say is: Maureen ran so that Troy Bolton from High School Musical could fly.
The whole sequence where the ballet dancers all go and dance salsa because ... that's how ballet dancers let loose, I guess!
Did we mention that Zoë Saldana is in Center Stage?
It was her first feature-length role! She played Eva Rodríguez, the feisty dancer from Boston who doesn't care what anyone thinks. If delivering one-liners was its own art form, she would be like Picasso. Here are some of her greatest works:
When she asked this very important question about Maureen's higher education: "What, did you go to a special bitch academy or something?"
When she spoke this truth: "Being nice when you say something pricky is even prickier."
Or when she responded, "I'm knitting a sweater," after being asked what she was doing after clearly lighting up a cigarette in her shared dorm room.
And finally when she decided that she doesn't need to impress anyone and said, "I'm not dancing for them anymore, I'm dancing for me." (Coincidentally, this is exactly what I said when my friends decided to call it an early night and I wanted to stay out dancing. Go figure.)
When Jody and Cooper went back to his incredibly large loft apartment for "dessert" a.k.a. "cookies or something" that Cooper "could've sworn he had" and Mandy Moore's "I Wanna Be With You" played* as they hooked up.
But not before Cooper delivered the iconic line, "I noticed your dancing before I recognized your face." And that, my friends, is a person with imposter syndrome's dream pick-up line.
*It must be mentioned that Moore's song, "Candy" also played during a dance class that Jody and Cooper attended immediately before this. Mandy Moore is all over this movie.
When Charlie and Cooper got into a dance battle over Jody, but with a lot of ballet jumps.
When Jody had a full breakdown because Cooper Nielson had sex with her but wouldn't even talk to her and Charlie — who not-so-secretly loved her — delivered this advice:
“Whatever you feel, just dance it.”— Me, to the drunk girl in the bathroom crying over her ex
When Jody turned down the American Ballet Company.
And told Jonathan Reeves (played by Peter Gallagher) and Juliette Simone (played by Donna Murphy),"I'm not you, and I'm not perfect. I'm just me, bad feet and all. And I'm starting to think that I like that just as much."
When Jody agreed to be the principal dancer in Cooper's new company, but not before delivering this perfect dig:
“Cooper, you're an amazing dancer, and you're a great choreographer, but as a boyfriend you kind of suck.” — Jody Sawyer, Principal Dancer in Cooper Nielson's New Ballet Company and Winner of the Break-up
And obviously, the final dance.
I mean, the unraveling tutu! The red pointe shoes! Cooper Nielson's motorcycle being driven onstage! The soundtrack alone was to die for. They really went from "Swan Lake" to "The Way You Make Me Feel" to "If I Was the One" to "Canned Heat" — and we ate it right up!