Title: Center Stage: Turn It Up
Released: 2008

Fix: I Miss Dance Academy and This Isn’t Helping
Platforms: Netflix, Prime Video

Netflix Summary:

After being rejected by a prestigious ballet academy, a self-taught dancer begins to question whether she has what it takes to make it.

FYA Summary:

OXYGEN NETWORK, c. early 2008

Exec 1:
Y’ALL. I went to the movies this weekend, and it was LIFE. CHANGING.

Exec 2:
Oh yeah? What’d you see?

Exec 3:
It can’t have been about immortal baseball players and the child brides that love them, ’cause that doesn’t come out until later this year.

Exec 1: 
HELL NO. That doesn’t even sound like it has enough jorts! No, what I’m talking about is a REVOLUTIONARY CINEMATIC MASTERPIECE. 

[dramatic pause]

Exec 1: 
I just saw Step Up 2: The Streets.

Exec 3:
MOOSE! Oh wow, I don’t even know where that came from. I just felt really compelled to yell that.

Exec 2: 
Yes, yes. That’s all fine and well. But how do we profit from that? 

Exec 1: 
Well, what I’ve learned is that the youths are flocking to these dance talkies; brand recognition is EVERYTHING. So which dance property can we latch onto for a built-in audience? 

Exec 3: 
Hmm, how about Honey? That was a thing, right? 

Exec 2:
No, that’s a horrible idea. Please exist away from me; I hate you forever. Hey, how do we feel about Center Stage, team? We won’t have the budget for a proper soundtrack, though.

Exec 3: 

Exec 1: 
Now, hang on. We might be onto something here. But instead of getting into dance school, let’s have a feisty heroine who can do anything if she just.wants.it.enough. Thousands of dollars of formal training be damned!

Exec 2: 
But doesn’t the ballet academy aspect distinguish Center Stage from other dance movies? Except maybe Save the Last Dance, which even Olivia Pope can’t erase from existence.

Exec 3: 
Plus, no Jamiroquai. Jamiro-WHYYYYY

Exec 1: 
I’m telling y’all — the Charming Potato diamond-in-the-rough against the establishment blueprint WORKS. So let’s step — er, TURN this bish up!

Exec 2: 
Yes yes yes yes yes. When you say it fast, it sounds like Center Stage: Turnip. I’m convinced.

Exec 3: 
I love turnips.

Familiar Faces:

First, let’s address the faces we care about, i.e., the only connections between this movie and the original.

Peter Gallagher as Jonathan

This may have been the easiest week of filming for Peter, but Y’ALL: The O.C. only ended a year before this! Was he really that hard up for money? Your eyebrows deserve better, Sandy Cohen!

Ethan Stiefel as Cooper Nielson

It’s been an admittedly long time since I actually watched Center Stage, but I still had a vague memory of Cooper being a douchebucket. Colour me surprised when Cooper seemed like a decent character and instructor?! And he’s SO FREAKING GRACEFUL when he dances. Like, mesmerizing. But — spoiler alert! — that goodwill falls apart with the triumphant return of his Bad Boy of Ballet motorbike.

Rachele Brooke Smith as Kate

If you’re unfamiliar with RBS, you probably haven’t seen the Christina Milian Bring It On installment, which underutilized her dance abilities and overused her scenery chewing ones. A self-taught dancer that owns an everlasting carton of Haagen-Dazs Extras, Kate learned everything she knows from mimicking VHS tapes because poor and preternaturally gifted.

While I know the mix of dedication, ambition, and natural born talent varies from athlete to athlete, the importance of technique in ballet makes this sitch seem especially far-fetched. Then again, who needs stodgy old technique when you have FIIIIIIIIRE in your heart?!?! 

Kenny Wormald as Tommy

Hey, it’s the guy from the Footloose remake* who isn’t Miles Teller! Did he have it written into his contract that he has to be EXTREMELY, unrecognizably photoshopped in the promo posters so as to not impact his future career? He looks like a freaky flesh-wearing mannequin in the bottom right photo! (Go ahead; scroll up. I’ll wait.)

*I still haven’t seen that yet. Kevin Bacon will forever be my one true Ren McCormack.

Tommy used to juggle both ballet and hockey because sure, it’s not like neither on its own is a huge time commitment to perform at a high level or anything. Anyway, Tommy actually remind me SO MUCH of this tool I went to college with that it was nearly impossible to find him attractive. 

I said “nearly”.

Rounding out the ballet entourage is all of one person, because Our Heroine literally doesn’t even go here. If you enjoy watching the highs and lows of attending a dance academy (and I know y’all do), you won’t be finding any of that here; Kate doesn’t even get into the program! All we’re left with is a bitchy ballerina nemesis — Abigail Armstrong she’s most certainly NOT — as pictured above. (Go ahead; scroll up. I’ll wait.)

Couch-Sharing Capability: Medium

If you’re a fan of its predecessor, this sequel probably piques your curiosty, as it would for your like-minded friends. So round up a viewing party to see how this movie bares very little resemblance to the original. I can’t even recall a single mention of turnouts!

Recommended Level of Inebriation: Moderate to High

As ridiculous as this movie is, it’s not completely terrible. (High praise!) But the two leads are most charismatic when dancing, and Kenny’s shirtlessness is a rare occurrence. Keep your cocktail handy, y’all.

Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Decent (As Long As You Forget the Center Stage Part of Its Name)

The best thing this movie has going for it is the dancing — so YAY, it at least did right by that. (Although Cooper Nielson schools everyone else in ballet, obvs.) Just try not to think too much and enjoy the pretty moving pictures.


Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.