How did she put those cornrows in her hair so fast?

So, by special request, I read book #2 from the Satin Slippers series, called Center Stage. No not that Center Stage….yet.

Well, not much to snark on, it was pretty good! What more can you ask for, a boarding school, San Francisco, and dancing! The author clearly knows her shit about dancing. Leah is the up and coming dancer at the school, and the school is doing tryouts for showcases, and Leah gets the coveted lead as Juliet in the Romeo and Juliet scenes. There’s some tension and jealousy among her friends and enemies.

Some of the tension occurs when she is partnered up with boy dancer James, the best male dancer at the school. James is all mysterious, snotty, anti-social and totally into his dancing. In other words, smokin’ hot. I don’t know if you’ve picked this up by now, but I am into the cocky guys. Except that, when he gets injured and doesn’t want Leah to tell anyone, he threatens her with bodily harm. Oh James, why do you have to be like that? Turns out he’s a shoe-in to be on the company and he doesn’t want anything to ruin that.

There’s all sorts of fucked up dynamics at the school, even the teachers being asses to the students because the students can always take their place in the company. Yeesh! I hate anything catty and cutthroat. One of the reasons I don’t want to go to law school. Well that, and I have no interest in law.

My experience with dancing is zilch, unless you count the ballet classes I took when I was four and had a small solo in our recital in which we did a routine to Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds.” But, it was pretty gripping and Leah’s relationships with the people around her were a bit more complex than most YA novels. In the end, she didn’t end up with James in a happy ending.

So yeah. Those of you that read this, anything else you want to share? What eventually happens to Leah and the gang?

But obviously, I can’t mention this book without mention the horrendously awesome movie, Center Stage, about kids at ballet school. The last ten minutes is some of the best stuff ever to grace the cinema. The kids in the school perform in showcases in which they will be recruited into ballet companies. The main character, forgot her name, not even important, is the star in the radically rebellious dance instructor’s piece. Of course, the whole thing that he choreographed chronicles her experience. Kind of like how the musical in High School Musical 3 was all about the experiences of 4 kids on the school, and everyone was ok with that.

Believe me, this is the best 10 minutes you’ll ever spend. Keep in mind this gal is 16 and a student and the teacher is supposedly in his late 20s. And they simulate sex onstage. As a ballet. While her parents are in the audience. And the costume changes are redonculous (especially at the 1:02 mark). And suddenly she has corn rows in her hair. Okay, I’ll just let you see it for yourself.

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62 thoughts on “How did she put those cornrows in her hair so fast?

  1. nancy says:

    The bit on the bed was so disturbing! Why!!! I’ve never seen this film, were the two guys her teachers throughout the film or just playing her teachers in that performance? I sincerely hope it’s the latter.

  2. Cyanne says:

    Wow. That was the most awesomely bad dance scene I’ve ever seen. And yet I was compelled to keep watching.

    Best dance movie–Dirty Dancing!!!

  3. nichole says:

    Ah yes – Cooper Nielsen and Jodie Sawyer. I loved Center Stage. It’s one of those movies that when its on tv no matter what part of the movie its at – I will stop what I’m doing and watch the rest of it despite the fact that I own the DVD.

    I also loved the Satin Slippers series. There is a Russian girl at the school and since I was a dancer and also fascinated by all things Russian, I was addicted to these books.

  4. sarah says:

    That movie is soooo confusing, yet so awesome!!!! I didn’t get why there were so many kids who apparently only needed to go to the school for a year before they got a job, but then there were other characters that had apparently been at the school since they were like, 5. The bulimic girl, for example.

    And the “student workshop” at the end was so great, words cannot describe. What got me worse than the cornrows was the change in shoes. Do you know how long it takes to get strapped into a pair of pointe shoes????

  5. BartTempleton says:

    Thanks for this review, never read this series, but the cover alone makes it look right up my alley, heh.

    Ahhh, Center Stage. Shades of my senior year of undergrad (when it came out).

    All three of these people are professional dancers-NOT ACTORS–hence the quality of the movie. In fact, the blondish teacher is actually quite famous as a ballet dancer. Zoe Saldan~a got her start in this movie; she and Peter Gallagher are the main real actors/non dancers in the movie.

    I ‘ve always loved all the hoopla over this fake avante-garde dance. Er, this is the opposite of avant-garde. No way in hades would the “Cooper Nielson” character be considered at all edgy in the real ballet world. This is like the suburban middlebrow Olive Garden idea of cutting edge.

    Now, for classic and exquisite dance, see Neve Campbell/Robert Altman’s THE COMPANY. Best ballet movie I’ve seen.

  6. kristin says:

    “Ooooh, I can’t go back in there! I’m all splotchy!” ~Jodie Sawyer

    ooooh, center stage! Love. It. I love the part where she does like 27 foites (sp?) at the end of the ballet. (foite= the kind of turn where the leg is out straight) The movie came out when I was hardcore into dance, and it was amazing, even though it had the worst acting ever.

    I loved books about ballet! There was one I read that had girls in a dance school, and suddenly there’s a new student from Russia who’s INSANELY good, and she doesn’t know what gum is at a party and the girls make fun of her, and then she breaks her ankle at the end and our main character has to dance the lead in the nutcracker (because really, when does that NOT happen in a dance book?). I wish i remembered the title…anyone?

  7. SpinningJenny says:

    What, The Company had a plot?
    I keed, I keed. ^_^ I couldn’t get into The Company because I was sooo confused over what was going on.

    I love Center Stage. It’s pure cheesy awesomeness. The comfort food of movies. ^_^

  8. Carrie says:

    @Kristin: That book is called “Samantha on Stage”. I still have it! I lurved it because I did ballet as a kid and that book was so fantastically unrealistic, there was absolutely no way any child serious about ballet would have gone from the Bolshoi Academy to taking one class a week at some random school in the ‘burbs. All I could think at the end when they moved back to Russia was how her ballet career was completely toast.

    Anyhow, as for Leah and the gang at SFBA, it ends before they graduate, so it’s never really clear what happens to them “in the end”. However, there is some stuff…
    *Leah gets seriously injured in the 10th book (I think she tears her Achilles?) and her career is in doubt but everything looks back on track at the end
    *Alex quits dancing to go to university
    *James gets kicked out of SFBA over the stunt he pulled in Center Stage and ends up dancing with the Joffrey in NYC; later in the series he’s in a movie (they want to cast Leah in the movie, too, but she turns them down)
    *Katrina almost has to leave the school when her parents run out of money, but she gets a scholarship and stays on
    *Michael (the awkward boy Leah usually gets paired with in pas de deux class) falls for Leah’s told archrival from home (Annie) in the last book and moves to NYC to dance with her in City Ballet
    *Pam is revealed as the product of an overbearing dance mom and mellows out just a little bit
    *Kay is revealed as the daughter of a famous ballerina who abandoned her family for her dancing and almost quits, but eventually refocuses on choreography

    Okay, it’s a little embarrassing that I know that much about those books. Also, obviously I love that movie. I’m going to go before I humiliate myself further.

  9. Amber Tan says:

    And let’s not forget the sequel to Center Stage — Center Stage 2: Turn It Up.

    BTW, I loved Girls Just Want To Have Fun for its zany ’80s outfits and showcasing of Cyndi Lauper’s music. Also, I dug Helen Hunt in her role as Lynn, Janie’s wild best friend, especially how she used velcro on her Catholic school uniform for quick clothes changes. That was the coolest. And when Lynna nd Janie get a hold of an invitation to the debutante ball for Country Club snob Natalie and make, like, 150 copies of it to pass them out to miscellaneous people? Awesome! 🙂

  10. Amber Tan says:

    Have any of you read the book “Maggie Adams, Dancer”? And I am trying to recall the title of another pretty good YA book that is about a young dancer who finds out she has Type I diabetes.

  11. Courtney says:

    Should I be embarrassed that I spent all weekend watching Center Stage – Turn it up? Amazing. None of the characters had any personality, there was no real drama between the rich girl and the poor girl, and Cooper Neilson looks terrible. Yet, I couldn’t take my eyes off of this movie

  12. Krysten says:

    I loved this series! My favorite was the dancer Alex who was Russian and all tough and intimidated by Leah’s talent. I was taking dance at this time & there was a girl in the class also named leah who thought she was all hot because they had the same name. She actually did go on and become a Rockette tho.
    The girl on the cover was also on the covers of the “All That Glitters” series. I never caught that back then, but when I got old book off amazon, I realized it was the same girl as Leah and Katie Nolan. Sad I remember the names!

  13. jordanbaker says:

    I love, love, loved the Satin Slippers books–it was one of those infuriating series where I got a bunch of them used but could never find the rest of them. . .so I ended up having like books 1-3, then 6,8, and so on.

  14. Becca says:

    I LOVE Center Stage! I love that “edgy” dance at the end, although the dance-sex is super creepy. And a motorcycle on stage?! Okay. But I like that the main girl finally realizes she is a good dancer even if she isn’t right for classical ballet. I actually get a little teary at the end. I just like a good underdog story, I guess. Plus, Peter Gallagher is in it! What’s not to like?! Every time I hear “Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai I think of all the turns she does in the end and I wish I could do that.

    I haven’t heard of these dance books, but now I’m intrigued.

  15. Cara says:

    Oh my god, Center Stage is so horribly bad that I’ve seen it dozens of times.
    But isn’t Jodie supposed to be 18 or so? I thought they were going to the academy instead of a regular college.

  16. Amee says:

    I love Center Stage it truly is horribly awesome. I used to watch it on HBO when they showed it back to back.

    And yeah, Cara, I think Jodie is 18 because her mom wants to know why she can’t study dance while going to college (in Indiana or something).

  17. kristin* says:

    (*not the kristin in the above post- the one who was talking about Samantha on Stage)

    Oh, one other thing about Center Stage that always bugged me- at the beginning of the movie when they tell her that her turnout is horrible… Um, if her turnout REALLY was that bad, she wouldn’t have been allowed to dance en pointe.

  18. Amber Tan says:

    Ah ha! The name of the book I couldn’t remember is “Will I Ever Dance Again?”

    And Satin Slippers was a great series although as jordanbaker points out it was difficult to find all of them.

    Wow, looking back, there are so many books out there about dancing and dance/ boarding schools.. I remember reading one about an 8-year old Canadian girl who gets into a prestigious dance/ boarding school. She sprains her ankle but still dances in the local ballet company’s production of The Nutcracker.

    What other dance/ boarding school books do y’all remember?

  19. Onnie says:

    omg Satin Slippers!!! I remember when I first saw this book at the library, I was so excited because at the time I was all about my ballet classes. Now I need to see if I have a book or two down in my basement to re-read.

  20. Alex says:

    Amber Tan – are you effing kidding me?! A SECOND CENTRE STAGE?! How did I miss that? Totally renting/buying this weekend.

    I didn’t even have to watch the clip… I just played it in my head. That’s amazing movie, right there.

  21. Suzanne says:

    I loved Center Stage!! I used to know the girl who played Emily, the one who left because she gained too much weight. I also loved The Company. I started taking dance again in college, and have been taking classes for the past few years. It’s fun! I only wish I had taken classes when I was younger. I never heard of this book, but I want to read it. I also need to find the sequel to Center Stage and watch that this weekend!

  22. Sue says:

    Never read the Satin Slippers books, but I’m also one of those who can’t see “Center Stage” on tv without stopping and watching it – especially if it’s near the end. (A good friend of mine worked on the dance show “Contact” when it was on Broadway, and the director of that show choreographed most of the dances in Center Stage – so it’s fun to look for people she knows in the dance scene at the Broadway Studio when Jodie takes a jazz class.)

    I always love the bit near the end in the Cooper piece when Jodie dips below the camera frame and the two guys are like, “where’d she go?” and then she reappears in a line with the rest of the girls. It’s like duh – you’re on stage, not in a movie. Just because she dipped out of the frame doesn’t make her invisible. And the audience claps for this amazing maneuver.

  23. Taren says:

    Ihatewheat, Center Stage 2 isn’t out on dvd yet. It comes out in January, but Oxygen has had it on a bunch of times. It’s really bad and not in a fun way, but Ethan Stiefel (Cooper Nielson) looks fiiine and I’ve been thinking dirty thoughts about him ever since.

  24. Katy says:

    Satin Slippers was an awesome series. I was pretty obsessed with it. As far as series books go, they were pretty good, with more realistic characters. I think the same publisher did a few more series following the same trope: group of teenagers pursue excellence in XYZ. In addition to Satin Slippers there was,

    Blue Ribbon, about elite equestrians. I think the main person’s parents owned a stable, her friends boarded their horses there, and they competed in events. They went to an elite horse camp one summer.

    and

    Silver Skates, about ice skaters. I actually don’t think I ever read these because my library only had one of the six, but someone else I knew LOVED them.

    They all followed the same story arc, more or less. There was the bitchy girl who it turned out was really pressured by her parents. There was the girl who was good but not quite as good as everyone else, who didn’t have the same drive and passion for it as her friends did, who ended up leaving to pursue the sport/art in a different arena.

  25. Vanessa Saxton says:

    I totally remember this series, although I didn’t know it was a series until now. I bought it at a school book fair or something. I remember not knowing if her name was pronounced like Lee or Lee-ah.

  26. Eli says:

    God, I love Center Stage, partially because it gives a shoutout to Indiana (where I–and the chick who played Jodie Sawyer) both went, and partly because it is awesome.

    Also, Television Without Pity may have the greatest recap of that movie that was ever written of a film. It makes me laugh, and I still go back and read it every so often while I am bored at work.

    And re: Center Stage 2…total suckdom. The only good part is that Cooper Nielson finally got a haircut and no longer has a feathered Hall and Oats ‘do.

  27. Colie says:

    Eli: Total word on that TWoP recap! Its in the OC section and is effin hilarious. Highly recommend.

    Re: Centre Stage- Some of Cooper’s dance moves are hilarious in that scene. And Eric was originally meant to play Cooper’s part?? I don’t know…i cant really see it somehow. it alwyas trips me out if i try and imagine Eric doing some of those crazy knee dances that Cooper does.

  28. tygre says:

    I have all of the Blue Ribbon books still, I think.

    I had my own horse as a teen, and the Blue Ribbon series is a noble effort. I also was an eventer, as the girls in that series are. They dumb it down some, of course, but most non-riders miss those parts. I LOVED ballet books as a kid though I never took classes and I am sure the inaccuracies went right over my head. 🙂

    For crap and unrealistic horse books, the Saddle Club series, particularly after, say, number 10. No thanks. I did unload all of those some time ago, lol.

  29. kiwimusume says:

    I LOVE YOU for referencing Center Stage. I freaking LOVED that movie, especially Eva, the snarky girl. I love the “I Am Your Slave” part where Eva says “I’d believe it more if you weren’t staring at your own fucking reflection the whole time” and the teacher says “If people want to hear profanity, Ms Rodriguez, they can take a subway. They don’t have to buy a $60 ballet ticket. …Though she has a point.”

    And how did I never notice that they totally ripped off Dirty Dancing at 1:48?

    And how did I not notice how seriously skanky some of those moves are, even before the sex scene. I’m surprised they haven’t got her putting a handbag in her cooch or hanging onto a ladder by her butt cheeks. Definitely not ballerina sexy. I guess we know what kind of company that guy’s running. XD

    The fight scene is so very, very Sweet Valley. XD

    And GOD, I can’t wait to til Centre Stage 2 comes out on DVD. Why do it so long after the first one, though? When you guys mentioned there was a sequel, I assumed it had come out a couple of years after the original and I’d just missed it.

  30. maybeimamazed02 says:

    I DID take dance from age 4 to 18, then on and off through college and law school (trust me, ihatewheat, you definitely don’t want to go to law school–I don’t regret going, but it’s pretty much the depths of hell), and now I study again at a studio in my city. The Satin Slippers author definitely knew her shit. And I LOVED the first three books, though I never could find the others after that.

    Center Stage–OMG, amazing and craparific! I love love love it, and Ethan Stiefel is a total hottie patottie (ihatewheat, I’m with ya on the cocky guys–my latest big crush is Anthony Bourdain, mmmm). My sister is visiting this weekend, and on the agenda is Center Stage 2, which I have TiVo’d for the occasion. That, and High School Musical 3. I am so dying alone.

  31. Lauri says:

    maybeimamazed02 – if you are dying alone then so are my best friend and I because HSM3 is in our weekend plans as well.
    I’ve never heard of this movie before, but OMG, could you see Mr. Collins imagining himself and Liz into this clip?

  32. Lauren says:

    I too have seen Center Stage multiple times and I don’t know why I watch it every time it comes on. That final dance sequence is absurd and makes absolutely no sense! I don’t know, watching that clip sort of pissed me off cuz the sequence is so infuriatingly unrealistic lol. However, Ive seen the movie like 10 times….blah.

    I think the red-haired dude has a couple of seizures during the subway sequence…he does some really wacky gyrations or some shit.

    I always found the dark-haired guy much more appealing, less creepy.

    The ballet “sex-on-the-bed” is not hot.

  33. Amber Tan says:

    Nope, Alex, I sh*it you not. Hey, I would never effing kid you guys about something as important as the sequel to a ballet school movie with horrible acting.

    Of course I haven’t actually *watched* Center Stage 2. I just saw the title while scrolling the TV menu in pursuit of a movie featuring William Zabka. 😉 Thankfully Courtney, Taren, Eli, and MissPinkKate have all provided succinct reviews for our convenience and it certainly does sound like a 5-turd movie.

    BTW, nice pun, Eli! (I.e. The only good part is that Cooper Nielson finally got a haircut and no longer has a feathered Hall and Oats ‘do.) Haha! I’ll bet it was… 🙂

    “The part in the final dance where she goes spread eagle and Cooper places her on the motorcycle really fucking weirds me out.”

    Me too, ihatewheat! And Liz, the ‘eewww” factor could only be compounded by Liz and Mr. Collins being the dancers in that scene. Or maybe Jessica and her brother Steven… 😉

    HI BARTTEMPLETON! Here I am! Didja miss me? Kin I haz bizkitt? [jumps up to lick BT’s face while wagging tail] Note to self: Start hanging out with humans more often.

    ETA: I just read the first page of the TWOP re-cap re: Center Stage and cannot.stop.laughing. Thanks, Eli and Colie! 🙂

  34. Anne says:

    Amber Tan – The book is On Stage, Please by Veronica Tennant

    I want to know how she got a completely different coloured outfit on right before the Jamiriquoi song.

    I vaguely remember some books called Bad News Ballet? They’re always advertised in the back of the Sleepover Friends books. I think I only ever read one or two of them.

    And I’m going to be re-reading Teacher’s Pet from Sweet Valley Twins in the next few days. I’m borrowing it from the library 😉

  35. Amber Tan says:

    “The book is On Stage, Please by Veronica Tennant”

    That’s it! Thank you, Anne! 🙂 And Bad News Ballet sounds vaguely familiar…was there one called “Battle of the Bunheads” by chance?

  36. Anne says:

    Yes! Battle of the Bunheads was the one I remember reading. I think it came in one of those Scholastic packages with a bunch of other books. Otherwise I have NO idea how I would have run across it!

  37. Jen says:

    I always wondered why in the hell Jodie would chase after Cooper, who is an ugly cocky jackass, when she could have sweet, smokin hot Charlie, who was clearly in love with her!

  38. Sarah says:

    I don’t have time to read all of the comments, but I would like to point out that I thought Jody Sawyer was 18? Her parents were trying to talk her into going to college instead of ballet academy. Also, she actually did screw Cooper Nielsen, so for his sake I hope she was 18. =)

  39. Deathycat says:

    I’ve never seen Center Stage but those were an awesome ten minutes. Makes me want to get it and watch the whole thing now. ^_^ My vote for best bad dance movie goes to Step Up. The tale of a juvenile delinquent who is made better by dancing and the death of a close friend. But mostly by dancing. Tis great fun.

  40. Rachel says:

    I used to be totally into ballet as a preteen – I went to classes and everything. Then my teacher moaned at my for having feet that rolled inwards…and I went into my Goth phase…so I stopped. I kind of wish I hadn’t, but I know my feet would have stopped me from doing proper ballet.

    Anyway, from someone who has had her hair cornrowed – although the girl in the film didn’t have many, it would still take her a pretty long time to get them done! I have shoulder-length, medium thickness hair and it took me five hours to have my hair cornrowed by two people. So yeah, so unrealistic.

    Also, sex on stage in a ballet? That was so creepy. The whole ballet was very odd, although the dancing was lovely. I’m glad I never saw that film as a teen – I know I would probably have totally loved it and then been ashamed about it afterward 😛

    I read a ton of ballet books when I was younger but don’t remember the names of any of them, sadly 😦

  41. The Black Sheep says:

    I gotta ask…. when Jodie Sawyer is in the edgy dance class where Cooper comes in and joins, did ANYONE ELSE notice some random guy feeling up another girl in the floor routine part?

  42. maybeimamazed02 says:

    Thanks to all y’all, I have ordered Satin Slippers 4-6 on Amazon, and am now eagerly anticipating their arrival. Hooray for GOOD 80’s YA lit!

  43. Jade Wu's Toe Shoe says:

    It is my duty to inform you all that the utterly fabulous, nonsensical, awesome mess that is Center Stage 2 will be airing on Oxygen this Friday and Sunday.

    I will obvs (TM ihatewheat) be watching – who’s with me??

  44. I like toast says:

    I really need to see this sequel. Me and my friend were obsessed with this movie in high school. We tried really hard to learn all the dances in it. She had a much easier time of it, having done ballet for years. The closest I’ve come to ballet is trying to learn the dances from this movie-haha. Here’s the thing my friend would always point out about that last dance sequence–when Jodie gets on the bike and her hair comes undone–completely unrealistic considering how much crap they put in their hair to keep it in place. The other thing about this movie–it had a few “real” actors, but it was just really really bad. The guy who played Eric is a “real” actor by the way. He played one of the Jacksons in “Jackson Five-The American Dream” (which I have still never finished).

  45. Joanna says:

    I am dating myself, but after taking my daughter to see her first Nutcracker today, I recalled a book I LOVED as a child, but I can’t for the life of me recall it’s title. It was about a young girl in a ballet company who wanted to dance the part of Clara (and I think she did), but it gave a huge amount of background into the casting and hierarchy of the roles of The Nutcracker–some roles the dancers wanted and some roles that no one ever wanted. I think this was geared toward the preteen age, but it might have been younger? As I said, I have vague memories, but I would just lvoe to revisit this book with my daughter.

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