With her dreams of becoming a professional ballerina decimated by the accidental death of her mother, Sara Johnson (Stiles) is forced to move from her quiet Midwestern town to her father's ghetto apartment on the south side of Chicago. The stark urban environment's contrast of race and class compound Sara's loss and her misplaced guilt, which are both exacerbated by the fact that her mother had been en route to her dance performance at the time of her death. But when she meets Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas), a popular black student with a passion for hip-hop and a future brighter than his troubled past, her repressed ambition and sorrow are released through a revitalized interest in the cathartic and expressive power of dance. Their friendship and mutual interest in dancing inexorably lead to a passionate romance that raises the sadly typical, bigoted resistance from Sara's white father and Derek's black friends. Widely hailed by critics for being as sophisticated and intelligent as it is viscerally passionate, SAVE THE LAST DANCE enjoyed the top of the American box office in its first weekend in release, playing to sold out shows across the country, a landslide affirmation that Sara and Derek are not as alone as they think.
Robert W. Cort - American Producer
Kerry Washington - Actress
David Madden - Director/ Producer, ODD COUPLE 2, SAVE THE LAST DANCE
Fredro Starr - Rapper/Actor
Bianca Lawson - Star, PLEDGE THIS! (2006)
Mark Isham - Composer, WATERWORLD (1995)
Cheryl Edwards - screenwriter
Terry Kinney - Actor/"Last Mohicans"
Sandra Hernandez - Costume Designer, A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS (2006)
Robbie Greenberg - Director of Photography
Paul Eads - Production Designer
Thomas Carter - TV Director/"Miami Vice"
Duane Adler - screenwriter
Sean Patrick Thomas - Actor
Peter E. Berger
Theatrical release: January 12, 2001. In preparation for the dance performances, Stiles and Thomas spent eight hours every weekend in dance studios and made regular visits to Chicago hip-hop clubs. Sara's rural hometown was filmed in Lemont, Illinois. Sara's ballet auditions were filmed at the Chicago Theater, the Schubert Theater, and the Athenaeum Theater. SAVE THE LAST DANCE was number one at the box office on it's first weekend, taking in more than $27 million over the three-day Martin Luther King Day weekend.
"...[Stiles'] performance, and her dancing, blossom in a pleasant, spirited way....Thomas projects a potently attractive self-confidence..." - 01/08/2001 Variety, p.37-8
"...SAVE THE LAST DANCE teaches that you should never give up your dreams and that love is all you need..." - 01/19/2001 Entertainment Weekly, p.63
"...[The film has] smart performances and pulls off the rare trick of tackling some thorny racial issues without becoming blandly moralistic..." - 04/01/2001 Total Film, p.85
"...Well-crafted and smoothly paced, SAVE THE LAST DANCE benefits most strongly from its predominately youthful cast....Lawson and the most appealing Washington make impressions as vivid as those of Stiles and Thomas..." - 01/12/2001 Los Angeles Times, p.F1
"...The development is intelligent, the characters are more complicated than we expect and the ending doesn't tie everything up in a predictable way....[Stiles is] one of the most talented of the emerging generation of actresses..." - 01/12/2001 Chicago Sun-Times, p.20