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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday, July 25, 2014 - Edition No 907 

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CENTRE STAGE TURN IT UP

SYNOPSIS:
All self-taught dancer Kate Parker (Rachele Brooke Smith ) has ever wanted to do was perform with the American Academy of Ballet. She leaves her hometown of Detroit headed for New York but finds herself competing against dancers like prodigy Suzanne Von Stroh (Sarah Jayne Jensen) who has been trained in ballet all her life. When Kate doesn't succeed at the audition, she learns that it takes more than precision and perfection to succeed in the dance world. With a turn in a cutting-edge hip-hop club and the help of Tommy Anderson (Kenny Wormald), a good-looking former hockey player turned dancer, she may just find the passion she needs to make her dreams come true.

Review by Louise Keller:
It might be formulaic and predictable, but there's plenty of appeal in this energy-filled film about reaching for your dreams. Set in the world of dance, the story is as much about passion as it is about ballet and hip hop. As you would expect, the dancing and the choreography are inspiring, but even more so is the charisma of the film's leading lady Rachele Brooke Smith, who wins our hearts without even trying. A rebel and a survivor, Brooke Smith's Kate Parker has a dream but the pathway to success is not a traditional one nor is it smooth. Uplifting and enjoyable, this is a story that involves dance, romance, jealousy, misunderstanding and the fire that ignites passion.

When we first meet Kate, she is wowing her friends on the pavements of Detroit with her funky hip hop moves. Before long, her audience is far more subdued as she auditions at New York's American Academy of Ballet, where she has dreamed all her life of being accepted. But while Kate is no traditional ballerina, she has something special, which is immediately noticed by the internationally celebrated dancer and teacher Cooper Nielson, played by the equally celebrated dancer Ethan Stiefel. But she is not embraced by the company's Artistic Director, Jonathan Reeves (Peter Gallagher), who is more enthusiastic about dancers in the mould of classically trained Suzanne Von Stroh (Sarah Jayne Jensen), whose wealthy father happens to be a benefactor.

The film is easy on the eye as we watch beautiful bodies rhythmically and elegantly contort in the rehearsal room and on stage. First time director, Australian Steven Jacobson, does an excellent job marrying the various story strands. Of course we know from the very beginning that Kate and Kenny Wormald's Tommy (the former hockey player turned ballet dancer) are made for each other; besides they dance like a dream together. Their dance routine by the fountain in which they both get drenched is sensual foreplay as their relationship blossoms. But the story has to play out and it does so alternating between the Academy and a hip-hop club. The music soundtrack is good too, and anyone who likes dance and romance will warm to this likeable film that sends all the right messages.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

CENTRE STAGE TURN IT UP (M)
(US, 2008)

CAST: Rachele Brooke Smith, Kenny Wormald, Peter Gallagher, Ethan Stiefel

PRODUCER: Laurence Mark

DIRECTOR: Steven Jacobson

SCRIPT: Karen Bloch

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dino Parks

EDITOR: Ian Slater

MUSIC: Laura Karpman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Geoff Wallace

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 30, 2008







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