BRIGHT LIGHTS BECKON In two Directions.JUST WHEN Amanda Schull Amanda Schull was born August 26, 1978 in Honolulu, Hawaii. She attended Punahou School, the oldest private school in Hawaii, and trained at Hawaii State Ballet under the instruction of John Landovsky. thought life couldn't get any more nerve-wracking, along came spring. Schull, 21, had already enjoyed her share of excitement last summer. Shortly after Schull landed an apprenticeship with the San Francisco Ballet San Francisco Ballet, or SFB, is a San Francisco, USA based ballet company, founded in 1933 as part of San Francisco Opera Ballet. The company is currently based in the War Memorial Opera House, where it is directed by Helgi Tomasson. , a casting agent spied her in rehearsal and asked her to read for Center Stage, the Columbia Pictures dance film opening this month. Now, as her apprenticeship winds down on the eve On the Eve (Накануне in Russian) is the third novel by famous Russian writer Ivan Turgenev, best known for his short stories and the novel Fathers and Sons. of her cinematic debut Schull is about to find out whether her future lies in San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden or Hollywood.
Schull's reading went well; so well, in fact, that she landed a leading role and hired an agent to negotiate her contract, which includes the option to make another film with Columbia. She spent her summer vacation Summer vacation (also called summer holidays or summer break) is a vacation in the summertime between school years in which students are off for 3 months, depending on the country and district. speeding through Manhattan on the back of Ethan Stiefel's motorcycle, and mixing it up with professional salsa dancers in club numbers set by Contact choreographer Susan Stroman. What's more, director Nicholas Hytner Nicholas Hytner (born May 7, 1956) is an award-winning English producer and director. Background
Hytner was born in Manchester to a Jewish family, attended Manchester Grammar School and read English at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. (The Object of My Affection, The Madness of King George King George has referred to many kings throughout history. When used, by Americans, without further reference it most often means George III of the United Kingdom, against whom the Whigs of the American Revolution rebelled. ) thinks Schull's film future isn't likely to end there.
"She has tremendous energy, a life, a warmth that goes through her and the camera just picks up on it," he said. "There's a wide range of stuff she could do." Not bad for a youngster with no company contract or film credits.
Center Stage, a $20 million film populated with big names and directed by Hytner, a theater veteran and professed balletomane bal·let·o·mane
An ardent admirer of the ballet.
[French : ballet, ballet; see ballet + -mane, ardent admirer (from Greek , features Schull as Jody Sawyer, an impressionable young dancer accepted to the fictional American Ballet American Ballet was the first professional ballet company George Balanchine created in the United States. The company was founded with the help of Lincoln Kirstein, and was populated by students of Kirstein and Balanchine's School of American Ballet. Academy in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of . The school, and the equally fictional American Ballet Company, to which it's tied, bear similarities to the School of American Ballet The School of American Ballet is located in New York City, in Lincoln Center. It is considered one of the most prestigious and notable ballet schools in the United States and teaches some of the most talented young dancers in the country. and American Ballet Theatre American Ballet Theatre, one of the foremost international dance companies of the 20th cent. It was founded in 1937 as the Mordkin Ballet and reorganized as the Ballet Theatre in 1940 under the direction of Lucia Chase and Rich Pleasant. , which supplied dancers for the ballet scenes. Among them were ABT's Ethan Stiefel Ethan Stiefel (born 1973 in Tyrone, Pennsylvania) is a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) . Biography
An only son of a Lutheran minister who became a prison warden in New York, Stiefel began ballet training in Madison, Wisconsin at age eight. , who plays star dancer Cooper Nielson, the object of Schull's affection; and Julie Kent, who plays Stiefel's former lover, Kathleen Donohue. Peter Gallagher (American Beauty; sex, lies, and videotape) is the company director who gets involved with Donohue, and ABT ABT About
ABT Abteilung (German: Department)
ABT Abbott Laboratories (stock symbol)
ABT American Ballet Theatre
ABT Associação Brasileira de Telemarketing
ABT Availability Based Tariff corps member Sascha Radetsky plays Charlie, the third part of a Jody-Cooper love triangle.
Schull found a sympathetic character in Sawyer, a ballerina hopeful whose stage presence outweighs her technical gifts. "You can tell from watching her that she loves to dance," said Schull, "but she's supposed to have terrible feet and her turnout is awful. She doesn't know there's a problem until she goes to the school and sees that she's got her work cut out for her."
The film follows a year in Sawyer's life as she struggles to keep up with her more accomplished roommates (played by actresses Zoe Saldana and Susan May Pratt This article is about an actress born in 1974. For Susan Pratt, an actress born in 1949, see Susan Pratt.
Susan May Pratt (born February 8, 1974 in Lansing, Michigan) is an American actress. , of 10 Things I Hate About You) and tries to decide what course her life should follow. "I didn't have to dig very deep trying to figure out what would be going on in her head, because I knew what would be going on in her head," said Schull. "Everybody--even if you have a decent body--has been scolded at one time, or made to work harder."
The hard work began in earnest for Schull around age 14, the year she was the youngest, and by her account, one of the least-prepared competitors at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. "I studied as hard as I could on my part," said Schull, "but I wasn't as driven as some of the people there; it wasn't until then that I realized what it took to be a dancer."
She went home to Hawaii after the competition and started spending longer hours in the studio. Dedication played a big part in how she got from Hawaii to the University of Indiana in Bloomington (where she studied under Violette Verdy), to the summer session at SFB SFB Sonderforschungsbereich
SFB Sender Freies Berlin (German Radio and TV Station)
SFB Star Fleet Battles (game)
SFB San Francisco Ballet
SFB Society for Biomaterials
SFB ScaleFactor Band , where she accepted the invitation to stay on at the end of the year.
"At my school in Hawaii, there were girls who were definitely made to be dancers--they had the legs, the turns, the extension, everything you need," said Schull. "I really did have to work to develop a body that could do half the things that they could do, and that's what she [Jody] had to do."
In fact, it was the corrections Schull received at SFB rehearsal one day that caught the eye of casting director and former dancer Heather Baird, who had been scouting major companies and schools across the country for a dancer who could also act. "This woman came in and was standing in the corner and nobody really knew who she was," Schull recalled. "We found out later that she was casting for a major motion picture, and we were all like `Oh, yeah, whatever!'"
But some of the corrections Schull got happened to be corrections that Jody gets in the script, and a few hours later, the SFB office told Schull that Baird wanted her to read. "So I went in and read for her, and she said nice things, but I thought she said nice things to everybody," said Schull. "I was excited, but I didn't want to get overly worked up about it."
That's when the process began steamrolling. Baird videotaped the reading and told Schull to expect a call in about a month. A week later, Schull was flown to Los Angeles to read for Hytner, and then to New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. for a screen test. "They said I would hear from them in a week, and I swear to God, that was the longest week I have ever spent," said Schull, who was on break from the company. She got the call, and two days later, she flew to New York to begin filming.
She first rehearsed the ballet that ends the film, followed by jazz dance sequences with Stroman and a crew of Broadway gypsies. "And then I started acting lessons, and that was something different," said Schull, whose acting experience to that point had been limited to community theater.
"What was touching about all the dancers is that they thought they weren't capable of acting," said Hytner. But Schull, he said, is "plainly a natural actress. She's completely unaffected." Acting, said Schull, is like dancing, in that "you have a director, he tells you what to do, and you do it. It's different in that you get to mess up."
Schull, Radetsky, and Stiefel, who also had no formal acting training, took three weeks of acting classes at New York University New York University, mainly in New York City; coeducational; chartered 1831, opened 1832 as the Univ. of the City of New York, renamed 1896. It comprises 13 schools and colleges, maintaining 4 main centers (including the Medical Center) in the city, as well as the before filming even began. By then, she said, they knew each other well and they weren't so intimidated by the prospect of acting in a major motion picture (and Schull was relieved to find that Stiefel, whom she characterized as friendly, didn't have a superstar advantage in the acting department). Saldana and Pratt helped Schull with her delivery. "I would go into their trailer and say, `So do you think I should say my lines this way or that way, or should I raise my eyebrow this way?'"
Schull, in turn, coached them on the dance scenes, a small irony, since her character was supposed to be the worst dancer of the lot. And Hytner was willing to take suggestions when the dancers felt the script (which playwright Wendy Wasserstein helped write) lacked veracity veracity (vras´itē),
n . "When I first heard it was a Hollywood movie about ballet, I thought it wouldn't be realistic at all," said Schull, whose corrections for Hytner included the removal of faux pointe shoes from a dorm room light fixture, "but after I read the script, I thought `This seems pretty realistic to me.'"
The movie provided a series of firsts, both for Schull and her alter ego A doctrine used by the courts to ignore the corporate status of a group of stockholders, officers, and directors of a corporation in reference to their limited liability so that they may be held personally liable for their actions when they have acted fraudulently or unjustly or when , Jody, who develops a huge crush on Stiefel's character, Cooper. "She starts out naive," said Schull with a giggle, "and then he de-naivetizes her."
There are several scenes in which Jody watches Cooper from afar without his knowledge, until he finally notices her and romance blooms. Stiefel's love of motorcycles was written into the script, which led to Schull's first motorcycle ride. "The first time we had to do anything on the bike, it was just a little scene going down Broadway. They had to block off the streets and they had the camera positioned so that we only had to go a few feet," said Schull. "I felt So gypped: I was like, `C'mon, that was only three feet!' So when the scene was over I said `Please, Ethan, please just take me around the block,' and they said, `Oh no, you don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. what can happen to you,' because they didn't have the whole block blocked off. As soon as they turned their backs, we took off! I was grabbing onto him for dear life, and he knew that I had never been on a bike before, so he was going faster than he ordinarily would have, and we were going over these cobblestones and I was just squealing squeal
v. squealed, squeal·ing, squeals
1. To give forth a loud shrill cry or sound.
2. Slang To turn informer; betray an accomplice or secret.
v.tr. . It was so much fun. After that I got to ride the bike several more times, so I got accustomed to it."
The dance scenes took some getting used to as well, even for the dancers. Schull, Radetsky, and figure skater Ilya Kulik, who plays a Russian dancer, were forced to jettison jettison (jĕt`əsən, –zən) [O.Fr.,=throwing], in maritime law, casting all or part of a ship's cargo overboard to lighten the vessel or to meet some danger, such as fire. years of classical training during the salsa scenes Stroman set in a club with professional salsa dancers. "We were horrified hor·ri·fy
tr.v. hor·ri·fied, hor·ri·fy·ing, hor·ri·fies
1. To cause to feel horror. See Synonyms at dismay.
2. To cause unpleasant surprise to; shock. , because we've always been taught to stay straight up and down and not move our hips, but we had to move our hips around and do a shimmy, so it took a while for us to actually get the hang of it," said Schull, moving stiffly, like a robot, to demonstrate. "After the first take, Nick stopped the camera and said, `You are the whitest salsa dancers I've ever seen.'"
Hytner, meanwhile, circumvented some of the challenges of filming dance by having Stroman and Christopher Wheeldon choreograph specifically for his camera. But when it came to the classical ballet scenes, with Stiefel and Kent dancing excerpts from Romeo and Juliet Romeo and Juliet
star-crossed lovers die as teenagers. [Br. Lit.: Romeo and Juliet]
See : Death, Premature
Romeo and Juliet
archetypal star-crossed lovers. [Br. Lit. and Theme and Variations, Hytner felt there was no other way to film them but front and center, from an audience's point of view. It was those scenes, however, that converted fans from the sidelines.
"After the Romeo and Juliet scenes, [Kent] turned every single one of the crew guys into ballet fanatics," said Schull. "They had no idea what a beautiful dancer she could be, because they work in movies, not ballet. I went back to do reshoots a couple weeks later and everybody was hopelessly in love with Julie Kent."
Kent, who was cast in the movie Dancers when she was 17, provided something of an object lesson for Schull. It's been nearly fifteen years since Kent faced a similar choice between dancing and the movie offers that came in following Dancers's release. "Hollywood is a heady business," she said. "You feel like the star of the show no matter what your role." But at that point, she said, "Doing movies would have jeopardized my career--when you're working your way up, it's impossible."
Kent pursued her childhood dream of becoming a ballerina, and said she hasn't regretted it, especially since she has earned more freedom to pursue movie roles now that she's reached the top of ABT's ranks. Her role as a principal dancer in Center Stage reflects her progress since she played a corps member in Dancers, validating, in a sense, the decision she made at a young age. "Sometimes naivete na·ive·té or na·ïve·té
1. The state or quality of being inexperienced or unsophisticated, especially in being artless, credulous, or uncritical.
2. An artless, credulous, or uncritical statement or act. is an advantage," she admitted. "It makes things simpler."
What happens if Center Stage is a hit? For Hytner, it could mean that a studio finally greenlights the film he's been pitching on Ballets Russes impresario Serge Diaghilev. For Schull, who acknowledges the short-lived nature of professional dancing, it could be the start of a whole new career. She said she has three plans of attack if she doesn't get into SFB: return to Indiana to dance and finish school, investigate work with other companies, or consider acting, which Hytner thinks is a perfectly viable option. "Ballet is so much harder than acting," he said frankly. "They [dancers] are infinitely greater artists." Schull is "a very steady, calm, intelligent person," he added. When the time comes Adv. 1. when the time comes - at the appropriate time; "we'll get to this question in due course"
in due course, in due season, in due time, in good time , "she'll know what to do."
Until SFB artistic director Helgi Tomasson makes his decision, however, Schull isn't taking calls from her agent. "I tell him, `Don't tell me anything right now. Don't tell me if anyone's called or made another offer, because I don't want to be forced to make a decision.'
"I'm really hoping that my future will be here," she said, gesturing toward the SFB studios. But she admits that the Center Stage premiere and potential movie roles waiting in the wings are cause for optimism. "It's such a light at the end of my apprenticeship," she said. "Even if I don't get to dance here, I still have something to look forward to."