Have plans Saturday night? You might want to cancel them ASAP (or at least set your DVR) because Center Stage: On Pointe is making its much-anticipated (and MUCH-waited-for) world premiere. The threequel (which we've been freaking out about since November) has all the makings to be a huge win for dance movies, taking what we love about the original Center Stage and adding some new twists.
Remember Bella (Nicole Muñoz), Kate's little sister from Center Stage: Turn It Up? SHE'S BACK, and this time it's her turn to audition for the American Ballet Academy. Other old favorites who'll be returning: Tommy (Kenny Wormald), Charlie (Sascha Radetsky) and Cooper (Ethan Stiefel). And of course, it wouldn't be the ABA without a return from Johnathan Reeves (Peter Gallagher)! If that's not enough for you, up-and-comer Chloe Lukasiak (you know her from Dance Moms) will be there too, cast as dance prodigy Gwen.
As for the plot? The American Ballet Academy is headed in a more contemporary direction, and Johnathan is holding a "Dance Camp" training intensive to find his new superstars. His top choreographers (Tommy, Cooper and Charlie, obviously) are tasked with recruiting dancers to compete at the camp, with the winners earning a coveted spot at the ABA. Plenty of dance and plenty of drama, what more could we ask for? Here's to hoping there's at least one iconic costume change moment. (Not holding our breath, though, this one is hard to top.)
Check out this exclusive sneak peek video from Entertainment Weekly and get. ready. bunheads.
See the movie on Lifetime at 8/7c this Saturday, June 25th.
You guys. Our entire office is on the verge of hyperventilating right now, because we just found out that there is a third Center Stage movie in the works.
I REPEAT: THERE IS A THIRD CENTER STAGE MOVIE IN THE WORKS.
And here's the thing: It sounds like it might actually recapture some of the magic of the original.
How, you ask? What could this threequel—which is titled Center Stage: Dance Camp and has a yet-to-be-announced premiere date on Lifetime—possibly do to top this...
...and, oh lord, this???
Well, it could involve a whole mess of Center Stage and Center Stage: Turn It Up stars, for starters. Word is that Cooper (Ethan Stiefel) and Charlie (Sascha Radetsky) and Jonathan (Peter Gallagher) and even Tommy (Kenny Wormald) will all be back for round three.
It could also bring in one of today's up-and-coming dancers for a little extra sparkle. Someone like, say, Chloe Lukasiak, who has been tapped to play a dance prodigy (of course) named Gwen. This is perfect for several reasons, and one of them is that Chloe may or may not be Amanda Schull's baby sister.
Right? Do we see it?
Here, according to Deadline, is the plot of this latest Center Stage installment:
"Jonathan Reeves...is tasked with infusing more contemporary styles and modernism into the American Ballet Academy. [He] enlists his his top choreographers Charlie..., Cooper... and Tommy...to recruit dancers to compete at a camp where the winners will be selected to join the Academy." [Gwen is one of the dancers at the camp.]
My heart, you guys. My HEART. I so, so want this to be good. I so, so need it to be worthy of the amazingness that is the original. (Center Stage: Turn It Up was...I mean, it just didn't have the feet. Or the heart.) And I so, so hope Jody makes a cameo. Is she still a principal in Cooper Nielson's company? Are she Charlie still together? Do they have beautiful dancing babies?* THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW.
Anyway, stay tuned. We will be obviously be monitoring this situation aggressively.
*Real talk: Their kids could potentially be teenagers by now. Has it seriously been that long, Center Stage? It feels like only yesterday that we first discovered how *on* you were.
Here's one of the many (MANY) things that makes Center Stage so magical: There's a sense that the dance-actors were basically playing themselves. Amanda Schull, a real-life sweetheart who struggled with her turnout, became the sweet and turnout-challenged Jody Sawyer. Sascha Radetsky, a real-life heartthrob and all-around nice guy, became the adorable and eternally nice Charlie. And Ethan Stiefel, a real-life superstar with a bit of a bad-boy edge, became Cooper Nielson, a superstar with a MAJOR bad-boy edge.
Which is why it's so delightful when—16 years out!—Center Stage-rs do things that reconfirm that feeling of art imitating life. Like when Ethan Stiefel, tasked with creating a new ballet for The Washington Ballet, decides to take a 9,000-mile motorcycle ride to figure out the rather daring concept for the work. Because that's straight out of Cooper's playbook, and it really did just happen.
According to The Washington Post, earlier this year, Stiefel received a call from his former American Ballet Theatre colleague, Kathleen Donahue Julie Kent, now artistic director of The Washington Ballet. She wanted him to make a ballet for the company, and she wanted it to commemorate John F. Kennedy's would-be 100th birthday. “I was elated and flattered,” Stiefel told the Post. “And, like, ‘Whoa.’ I needed a moment.” That moment turned out to be a six-week motorcycle trek across the country. By the end of the trip, he had his idea: He'd make a ballet based on Kennedy's space initiative. Which is just the kind of intriguing, unexpected thing that Cooper Nielson might do.
The article includes a ton of fascinating info about the new ballet, Frontier, set to premiere in D.C. in May. (For example: Stiefel actually met with astronauts at NASA headquarters, which, 🙌.) Read the whole thing—and then go watch the Center Stage finale one more time, because it's Monday and you deserve it.
So I, along with many other fans, have been a little skeptical about the latest follow-up to our beloved 2000 classic (because we can't forget the OG sequel, Center Stage: Turn It Up). But everyone can breathe a collective sigh of relief, because the trailer for Center Stage: On Pointe delivers. Let's break it down, shall we?
- Intense, high-pressure audition? Check. The trailer opens with our main character revealing she's vying for a spot in the "American Ballet Company." But plot twist—according to the diner patron she's speaking to in the trailer, she's "not the ballet type," which leads us to...
- Intense, high-pressure training montage? Check! Honestly the best part of dance movies is the blood, sweat and tear-filled studio scenes, culminating in the always-exciting finales. It's pretty much a guarantee we'll be getting that with this film.
- Ballet everywhere. Check!! As a (not-so-secret) ballet maniac, I was very excited to see the glimpses of pointe shoes and partnering class, not to mention all the falls. Nothing like a good spill (only on camera, of course!).
- Ethan Stiefel and Sascha Radetsky as "top choreographers" Cooper and Charlie? Check and check. Enough said.
I don't know about you, but my countdown clock to June 25th starts now. In the meantime, I'll just be watching these GIFs in preparation. Don't miss the full trailer below.
Mmmmmm. There's SO MUCH delicious late-night dance-y goodness happening.
A few days back, the one and only Misty Copeland chaînéd her way across the "Late Show with Stephen Colbert" stage. Last night, newly minted MacArthur genius Michelle Dorrance tapped up a storm on that same dance-friendly floor. And on Monday, we'll get a pretty spectacular addition to this string of late-night dance performances: Copeland and 15 (!) other American Ballet Theatre dancers will premiere a pièce d'occasion, choreographed by Ethan Stiefel, on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
Just how are 16 beautiful ballet people going to cram onto Kimmel's Hollywood set? Well, actually, they're not: The performance is happening during the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" team's weeklong visit to the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Howard Gilman Opera House. (Kimmel is celebrating all things NYC during the BAM run; in addition to ABT, his lineup includes Big Apple heavies like Jay-Z, Bill Murray and Michael J. Fox.) And that means Kimmel fans will get to see Misty and crew as they're meant to be seen: on a big, beautiful opera house stage.
Set your DVRs for Monday at 11:35 pm EST/10:35 pm CST. And in case you missed 'em, here are those recent late-night appearances by Copeland and Dorrance:
Whoa, you guys: Remember way back in January, when we told you Starz was working on a "gritty" ballet drama? Well, big news: The network has released a few of the names attached to the project, and they are MAJOR.
How major, you ask? We've got former American Ballet Theatre principal Irina Dvorovenko and current ABT soloist Sascha Radetsky (Charlie!) in acting roles. We've got former ABT principal and current Royal New Zealand Ballet director Ethan Stiefel (Cooper!) acting as consultant and choreographer. We've also got a Ballet Arizona dancer, Raychel Diane Weiner, in the cast.
The beautiful people. (L to R: Dvorovenko by Gene Schiavone; Stiefel by Rose Eichenbaum; Radetsky by Angela Sterling; Weiner via Ballet Arizona)
That is...pretty legit. Despite my continuing apprehension about this becoming TV's take on Black Swan, I'll tune in to watch these beautiful dancers (hopefully) dancing.
Starz is still looking for the series lead, a "Polina Semionova type." Polina? Are you interested?
Oh, and the show also has a name: "Flesh and Bone." Gross! But also kind of sexy! Color me intrigued.
Remember a couple of days ago, when we talked about how superstar Ethan Stiefel gave his last performance with American Ballet Theatre on Saturday? Well, some forward-thinking audience member filmed Stiefel's farewell bows for those of us who weren't able to see him say goodbye in person, and wow—it's a doozy of a video. Get the tissues ready. (I lost it when his fiancée, ABT principal Gillian Murphy, came out and gave him the world's most adorable congratulatory kiss.)
Best wishes, Ethan! You'll be missed around here.
What a month it's been at American Ballet Theatre. Over the past few weeks, we've had to say goodbye to two of the company's most charismatic guys: Angel Corella, who is now the head of Barcelona Ballet; and Ethan Stiefel (aka Cooper Nielson), who recently took the helm of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Both Corella and Stiefel have been wowing ABT audiences for years. It felt like the end of an era.
But then, last Friday, came the news that two dancers had been promoted. The gorgeous Hee Seo, fresh off a whole bunch of triumphant performances during ABT's Met season, is now a principal; dashing Alexandre Hammoudi, who recently danced his first Romeo (alongside Seo's Juliet), is now a soloist.
It was sort of perfect that the company announced their promotions in the wake of those two big retirements. Yes, it's the end of one era—but it's also the beginning of another.
We'll miss you, Angel and Ethan—and congratulations, Hee and Alexandre!