Some new students have enrolled in the American Ballet Academy in New York City. Only six of them will be asked to join the company following a spectacular performance in front of a live audience. Jody (Amanda Schull) desperately wants to succeed but is disheartened when the artistic director (Peter Gallagher) tells her she is weak on technique and doesn't have the right body type to be a ballerina.

Meanwhile Maureen (Susan May Pratt) is being pushed by her controlling mother (Debra Monk) who works as the company's publicist. While she is dating a medical student (Eion Bailey), Maureen's obsession with not gaining any weight turns into a serious eating disorder. roommate Eva (Zoe Saldana) is a nonconformist Latina who is a great dancer. She breaks all the rules at the Academy until a teacher takes her under her wings.

Nicholas Hytner (The Object of My Affection) directs from a screenplay by Carol Heikkinen, which offers insights into the rigors, foibles, physical pain, and competitiveness in the modern world of ballet. Trying to bolster her self-confidence and to stretch her body, Jody visits a salsa club and attends classes in jazz dance. She has an affair with Cooper Nielsen (Ethan Stiefel), the star dancer in the American Ballet Academy. He gives her the break she needs to demonstrate her considerable talent. Center Stage presents an entertaining behind-the-scenes look at a world that isn't covered very often in the movies.