Learning From The Movies: They’re Taking Head Cases And Cripples

As a research nerd, and a film addict, I’ve decided to combine the two in a series of blogs I’m calling, “Learning from the movies. The posts will point out facts which may seem true, but aren’t, or facts that seem completely false, but are actually true.

Center Stage was one of my favorite movies growing up, and whenever I’m in the mood for a feel good movie, it’s a staple for re-watch. Here are the real facts to a few of the plot points of this chick flick.

PLOT POINT: The final selection of new dancers to the American Ballet Company / Eric excitedly informs Eva “…they’re taking head cases and cripples.”

RULING: False.

If a dancer is injured, it’s usually the end or a very big delay for their career. There is no, “Let’s wait 6 weeks for your foot to heal and then another year for you to learn to dance properly on it again.” It’s usually, “I’m sorry you’re hurt, but you’re contract has been canceled.”

I can answer this one from experience. If you piss off a director, you can kiss your ass goodbye. They may continue to work with you, but usually they wont ask for more. I’m going to leave the door open for Eva, because there is a possibility that she was too insignificant to really piss off Jonathan Reeves (Peter Gallagher). There is also the fact that apparently, she danced the shit out of that piece. However I still can’t correlate a dance Company director choosing a dancer with attitude over those who are professional, talented, and so obviously want it badly.

PLOT POINT: Eva magically showing up to dance Maureen’s part.


You already knew this one. How could Eva have learned the routine so fast? But really, that’s not so unbelievable. Dancers often practice and know by heart routines which belong to others, particularly those which are principle parts. The un-real part was expecting us to believe no one saw it coming.

Eva is fully dressed, in all white. She had to get dressed somewhere, and walk from that place to the stage. Expecting us to believe no one stopped her and asked a million questions. There are several people in particular whom would have sought out Maureen and been troubled to find Eva in her place. Serge, for one, would not have headed to the stage without checking to make sure he had a partner to dance with.

Moments earlier in the film, a nice woman in all black was shown saying the line, “Warn the curtain. And curtain, go.” She was the Stage Manager, and unless she was simultaneously the worst stage manager in the world, combined with the worst assistants and stage hands, she would know if the star dancer in the second piece, was not dressed and in her position. Judging by the production quality of the rest of the performances, I would say that the Stage Manager had to be quite talented, and therefor, it would be highly improbable, that no one noticed the switch. As the Stage Manager, I would have been all up in Eva’s face, making sure that I didn’t need to call 911 about the former-star lying in a ditch, and making sure that the real understudy was dressed and ready to go.

Hope that was informative. Leave a comment and let me know what you thought. Suggestions for further nerd research are also welcome.


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