Dance Spirit - January 2001

 Julia "Stiles" the dance floor in Save The Last Dance 

Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas play dancing teenagers in love in this edgy new film.

Her 20th birthday only a couple of months away, Julia Stiles has a lot to celebrate. Born to an "unconnected" family in New York City, she acted her way from off-off-Broadway to Hollywood in a matter of years -- now she's one of the most popular young actresses around. But few people know that her performance background began with the dance classes her mother enrolled her in because she liked to play dress-up and dance around like rock stars. And little did she know that her training in dance would come in handy on the set of a movie she would star in while still a teen.

Save The Last Dance, set for release early this month, is your chance to check out Stiles' moves. Playing a middle-class teenager from a small town, who suddenly has to attend an almost all-black inner-city high school in Chicago, her ballet-minded character is drawn to an African-American hip hopper classmate with a somewhat sketchy past, played by Sean Patrick Thomas. Despite differences that go beyond the dance floor, the two help each other leap over private and public hurdles.

As for her crash course in hip hop, Stiles said, in an E! online interview, "I didn't expect it to be so hard. I've never felt more white in my life." Obviously, her sense of humor helped her through the filming, which also required her to perform floor combinations alongside The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago's Randy Herrera. Though challenged, she apparently sweated it out in Stile.

Article by Kimberly Gdula
Originally published at Dance Spirit - Posted on January 2001