Center Stage/Tina the Ballerina/Fame
I can’t get anyone to go see District 9 with me because “it looks too scary” (why are all my friends/relatives such babies?) but this morning at breakfast I turned on the TV and they were showing Center Stage, one of the Best Ballet Movies Of All Time!
Of course I couldn’t NOT watch it, because of its brilliant combination of romance, ballet, and teens arguing with their parents that they JUST WANT TO FOLLOW THEIR DREAMS, MOM.
Plus it has The Way You Make Me Feel, my favorite Michael Jackson song, in the final dance number.
In case you don’t know, Center Stage is about kids attending the American Ballet Academy. They live, eat, and sleep at the school, hoping at the end to get into the American Ballet Company. It’s basically the original So You Think You Think You Can Dance.
Center Stage is exactly how I always dreamed ballet school would be, back when I wanted to go to ballet school (after I read Ballet Shoes, one of the Best Books Of All Time).
But I would be remiss in not mentioning that my dream of wanting to be a ballerina actually started when someone gave me a record called Tina the Ballerina (the Best Record Of All Time, sadly unavailable/out of print now).
The plot of Tina the Ballerina is basically the plot from which Center Stage, Flashdance, Fame, and every movie about a Girl With a Dream of Making It Big On Stage is based, boiled down to its essence:
Tina is a little French girl who “loves to dance.” Tina freaking dances ALL THE TIME.
On the day the big ballet company comes to town, Tina goes to see it (of course). She sits in the audience, her heart pounding with anticipation. She is finally going to see REAL ballet dancers, including France’s premiere prima ballerina!
Things on stage get going with the back-up ballerinas. The chorus sings this classic we all remember (no. I am kidding. No one remembers this song):
“See the dance they do
All the little ballerinas
See the dance they do
Round and round upon their toes!”
But then the music stops! The conductor comes out and says:
“Attention everyone: I wish to announce that the star ballerina cannot dance tonight and so the ballet cannot continue.”
Gasp! What do you think happens?
YES! YOU GUESSED IT!
Tina pops up out of her seat and cries, “Wait! Wait, sir! I will dance in her place!”
(Because you would so do this, right?)
The conductor is like, “You? But you are only a leetle gurl!”
And before anyone can stop her, Tina races onto the stage, and she begins…to dance!
And then the thrilling chorus starts!
“Round and round and round she goes,
dancing dancing on her toes,
Tina the Ballerina,
the Belle of Gay Paree!
Twirling twirling in a spin,
whirling whirling like the wind,
Tina the ballerina,
the Belle of Gay Paree!”
Oh my God! If you’re seven, and you hear this—you are in leetle gurl ECSTASY when this happens! Because Tina freaking KNOCKS THAT BALLET out! She dances like Jodie in Center Stage! Or the dancing body double for Jennifer Beals in Flashdance! TINA THE BALLERINA IS OFF THE CHAIN. She saves the ballet for the whole town! Because Tina believes. Tina believes she can do it.
And so she can.
Tina goes on to become the BEST BALLET DANCER IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.
Last known copy of this album known to man and sadly, I do not own it.
Yes, Tina is a prostitot. But to a seven year old, she is the PRETTIEST THING YOU HAVE EVER SEEN!
There is another record floating around which looks like this and which claims to be the same Tina the Ballerina, but it is not as good because this Tina is some kind of “parental approved, non-sexed up Tina with no makeup or boobs.”
In other words, this is the Fail Tina.
Because of Tina and that song (which by the way, I played over and over again until I drove my parents suicidal), I took ballet three days a week for seven years….
…until I turned fourteen, realized the prima ballerina was never going to get sick and so I was never going to get to take her place (especially since, to be totally honest, I’m no Tina–I’m a horrible dancer, and I don’t love doing it, either), and besides the toe shoes were making all my toenails fall off, which Tina never mentioned.
So I quit to pursue things I liked better, such as writing and boys.
But I’m glad we have Center Stage to rock those toe shoes for Tina and leetle gurls everywhere!
I give Center Stage two and a half tiaras, except I can’t make halves, so it’s going to look like three:
Here is the trailer to Fame, the next generation, coming to theaters in Fall 2009. I will be first in line to see it. All thanks to Tina!