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CENTER STAGE

The Locations

During the rehearsal period, Hytner and his crew ventured into the streets of New York to film the movie's opening moments outside the Juilliard School at Lincoln Center where the camera tracks a group of young dance students heading to class. Production officially began, however, several days later, on July 12, 1999, on location in Ridgewood, Queens, for a scene set in a small Boston ballet school where Eva Rodriguez auditions for and is accepted into the American Ballet Academy.

Filming then shifted across the Hudson River to Jersey City, Queens, a Woodside bowling alley and Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood. The first week of production was completed with scenes inside the American Ballet Academy' s reception area staged in the main lobby at Juilliard.

The scene in which the central group of students. Jody, Eva, Maureen, Charlie, Sergei and Erik, accompanied by Jim, take a Circle Line boat trip around Manhattan was filmed on an actual Circle Line craft shuttling back and forth in New York Harbor between lower Manhattan and Liberty and Ellis Islands.

After several scenes in ABA's offices, filmed at the Fordham University Lincoln Center campus, the unit moved for two days to the Kit Kat Klub on West 43rd street for the scenes inside a salsa club. Music was provided by salsa stars Elvis Crespo and Giselle, backed by a live band.

" After the rigorous rehearsals for the strictly choreographed routines, this was more free-form," Stroman says. "The salsa everyone did was fantastic. Sascha and Amanda added some cool ballet moves, lifts and shoulder sits that somehow made their duet even sexier and underlined the attraction between Charlie and Jody, even if she doesn't quite know it yet."

The work completed at the salsa club, the unit moved back to Williamsburg in Brooklyn to film both the exterior of the salsa club and the interior of Cooper Nielson's loft. Filming then returned to Lincoln Center where the unit took up residence for two and a half weeks inside the New York State Theater to shoot two of the film's most important performance sequences. Designed by the great American architect Philip Johnson to the specifications of George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, founders of the renowned New York City Ballet, the State Theater is a house that was conceived mainly for the presentation of dance. It serves as the home of City Ballet (as well as the New York City Opera).

  The American Ballet Company's annual fund-raising Gala Performance was the first segment to be filmed inside the house. The next performance segment Hytner filmed at the State Theater was the American Ballet Academy's annual Workshop Performance, a sequence that serves as the film's climax. Hytner worked on the sequence for an entire week, shooting the two original ballets alternately. Jonathan's romantic work, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon to music from Rachmaninoff's second piano concerto, in the morning; followed in the afternoon by Cooper's modern ballet (giving the dancers in each ballet a much-needed rest).

Cooper's ballet serves as the film's startling and original denouement, playing out in music and dance the central romantic triangle of the movie, two guys after the same young woman. with the very characters who have lived the story in the film.

"Nick and I talked it over and over," says Stroman. "The most important thing for him was to make sure that Cooper's ballet looked different from any other ball

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