A group of 12 teenagers from various backgrounds enroll at the American Ballet Academy in New York to make it as ballet dancers and each one deals with the problems and stress of training and getting ahead in the world of dance.
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In Center Stage: On Pointe, Jonathan Reeves (Gallagher) is tasked with infusing more contemporary styles and modernism into the American Ballet Academy, and enlists his his top choreographers Charlie (Radetsky), Cooper (Stiefel) and Tommy (Wormald) to recruit dancers to compete at a camp where the winners will be selected to join the Academy. Bella Parker (Muñoz), who has always lived in the shadow of her hugely successful sister Kate, finally gets her chance to step into the limelight as one of the dancers recruited for the camp. Chloe Lukasiak plays Gwen, a talented dance prodigy who competes at the camp. Written by
I enjoyed this film very much, although I was surprised that it premiered on Lifetime instead of Hallmark as it's very much a classic Hallmark movie. From the moment they show up at the camp, these dancers are in competition for a few spots in a newly-reorganized dance company that has been tasked with modernizing itself. I have to agree with some of the other reviewers that I was less impressed with the lead actress's dancing than that of Maude Green, Chloe Lukasiak, and the male dancers. The setting was gorgeous, filmed mostly in an architecturally-intriguing building deep in the forest (Cheakamus Centre in British Columbia, Canada). Competitive rivalries heat up among the ballet dancers as they try to assimilate the contemporary dance style the others are so naturally good at; meanwhile, the contemporary dancers are brushing up their ballet skills. Not having watched the first two movies in this series, I admit I looked forward to it for months solely because Chloe Lukasiak had been cast.
Lukasiak, as most know, was a featured lead dancer on "Dance Moms." On the show, she was often referred to as naturally gifted in ballet, with beautiful lines, legs and feet, as well as excellent technique that she had developed by training since the age of two years old. Her real-life training and experience were quite different from her character, Gwen, who is referred to as a "dance prodigy" yet is almost exclusively a contemporary dancer with not much training in other genres. At the same time she was asked to play Gwen as relatively new to ballet, she was also learning partner work in contemporary and ballet for the first time - in real life as well as in the script. I was pleased that Lukasiak did not disappoint in her dance ability and has been complimented often in reviews of this movie - even by people panning the movie itself - as a dancer who was talented and enjoyable to watch.
From its logical plot sequence to its beautiful setting, this was such an enjoyable movie. Everything was believable: the couples, the improvement as the dancers learned, and even the surprising conclusion of Gwen's company audition - written perfectly in case they want her as the lead in a fourth movie. Although I had prepared myself for her to have few scenes and lines, I was happily surprised when that wasn't the case and she was in so many scenes & danced so much. I was disappointed that she was not in the finale dance, though. Seeing her in ballet class en pointe made up for all that, though, as we fans have been waiting and longing to see that for years. What a treat this movie was for her fans! One thing that Lukasiak seems to bring everywhere she goes is a quiet glow, a sparkling light - and this was no exception. Visually and in contrast to the older, more serious dancers, Gwen added joy and enthusiasm to her scenes, and I found myself interested in the character herself, eager to see what she would do with her dance career, quite separate from the real-life Chloe I have come to respect and admire so much.
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