JULIE KENT AS KATHLEEN DONAHUE FROM "CENTER STAGE" (2000): A CHARACTER BIOGRAPHY
by Dane Youssef
As delicate and willowy as a prima ballerina should be, the star, the plum of the American Ballet Company--because of her breaktaking abilites onstage and her goddess stage presence.
But mostly because of her career-securing decison to marry the American Ballet Company's Artistic Director, Johnathan Reeves.
Kathleen Donahue is not just an ABC principal--she is ABC's ballerina absolutta (absolute prime ballerina for those of you unfamiliar with the lingo). But even the distinguished Kathleen is not on par with ballet's current grandmaster Cooper Nielsen, who is now on the same mantel as Baryshnikov, Nijinsky and Nureyev.
Just after a lengthly relationship of years as Nielsen's girlfriend, her attention and attraction began waning towards the company's headstrong and passionate director, Johnathan Reeves. They began having an affair--the traditional tawdry kind. And when Kathleen has successfully fallen in love with Reeves and out with Cooper, we hear that she's chosen to drop the "Dear John" bomb on him right in the middle of a dance rehersal--no doubt assuming that he won't make a scene in public.
She was dead wrong. He had a meltdown in front of the entire company, throwing plenty of impolite words in her direction. Snubbed and emotionally shattered, he takes leave of ABC to be a guest artist with the famed Royal Ballet in London.
Nielsen may currently be the best there is, but Johnathan was the one who could assure her job security.
But more likely, there is a moment near the end of the movie where someone tells Nielsen, "You're an amazing dancer and you're a great choreographer. But as a boyfriend, you kind of suck." So maybe Kathy had the right idea all along.
Since the great Nielsen's departure from ABC, the feelings and relationship of Reeves and Donahue continue to ferment. Eventually (and thankfully), Cooper returned to the US of A and to the ABC. He wasn't about this one embarassing relationship mishap make him go into hiding forever. And he still is the brightest star ever to come out of the ABC, even more so than current artistic director and current significant other of Kathleen Donahue, Johnathan Reeves.
To celebrate his grand return to the company, he re-unites with his former lover (as a dance partner only) and the two perform a rendition of Sir Kenneth MacMillan 's "Romeo & Juliet." The piece is greeted with the expected raves and teary-eyes. The two seem to be re-united as more than just dance partners.
Yet when Cooper plants a passionate kiss on her elegant swan-like neck at the reception, she takes him aside and tells him in no uncetain terms that it's over and it's been over. They're dance partners, she tells him. Nothing more. But Cooper's abilites as a dance don't just overshadow Kathleen. He seems to take limelight away from her husband as well.
Which may very well explain why Reeves resent Cooper so much--that and the fact that Cooper used to bone his wife. Kathleen cheated on Cooper with Johnathan and now there are clues hinting that she's now making time with Cooper behind Johnathan's back.
She gives Cooper a look when ABC's least promising (yet most determined) pupil gives him a box of cookies after their one-night stand ("so you'll have some for next time"). And at a performance, she seems to have some kind of issue with dear Jody comes to see their duet. Kathleen hints at her being a stalker. "You are in big trouble," she tells him. Though he goes home with another woman.
Just looking at Kathleen, you can tell she's a prima ballerina. Her face, her body, her walk, her way. She has a graceful, trained "ballerina way" of just being. Even heraring her speak. Everything about her says, "I've spent my whole life working towards the creme de la creme of ballet. I was born to be a ballerina." Even looking at her childhood pictures, you can tell--ballet is what her body was ideally designed for, what she was born to do. Like a chipmunk OD'ing on helium.
But Dear Jody envies her--as does every aspiring ballerina who crosses her path. She's what they all aspire to be.
--For The Fictitious Prima Ballerina Absolutta Standing At The "Center Stage," Dane Youssef