I love dance movies — first and foremost because I love dance, and second because if there’s any world as brutal, beautiful, and inspiring as writing, it’s dance.
Center Stage: Turn It Up — the 2008 made-for-TV sequel to Center Stage — isn’t the best dance movie I’ve ever seen, but it was a pleasant surprise. Kate Parker, a self-taught dancer from Detroit, moves to NYC to audition for the American Ballet Theatre and pursue her dreams of being a professional ballerina. Her technique is found to be lacking, but what she does have is a certain fire. The question is, will that be enough?
Tommy: One rejection and you’re gonna quit?
Kate: I’ve had plenty more than one, thank you very much.
Tommy: Okay, but you realize that’s what this business is about. Rejection after rejection after rejection.
Kate: Thanks for the tip.
Tommy: You’re welcome. If you don’t have thick skin and serious drive, you could just give up now.
Kate: Serious drive? You woke up one morning, decided to be a dancer, and 6 months later you’re at the best school in the country. You have no idea what it’s like to work your entire life for something and then have no control over whether you get it or not.
Tommy: What are you talking about? Do you know how long I played hockey? Do you know how many times I got smashed into the boards hoping some scout might find me?
Kate: Yeah, and you walked away.
Tommy: I didn’t walk away. I made a choice. I didn’t let somebody else make it for me.
Kate: What do you care anyway?
Tommy: Because you’re good. You’re so good.
Kate: You know, I thought I was good. I was so sure I just had that thing that everyone always talks about. So I packed my bags, came to New York, and I gave it everything I had. And guess what? No one else sees it. My father didn’t see it. Jonathan Reeves didn’t see it. If no one else sees it, you’ve got to think, maybe it’s just not there.
Tommy: I bet she’s proud of you.
Kate: I haven’t really done anything to be proud of.
Tommy: What do you mean?
Kate: Well I mean, all I wanted to do by coming out here was show her she can do anything she wants. And I couldn’t do it.
Tommy: Just trying’s all she needs to see.
Jonathan: Next time someone like me tells you you’re not what they’re looking for, remember this moment. Because whatever you had to do to get through that and end up here, is exactly what it takes to be great.