There are a lot of great teen movies from the early 90s and even after that, when you consider the late 90s and early 2000s, there are still a ton of great movies to pick from. And yet, none of those movies really seem to save the day like Save the Last Dance. From the stellar cast, to the outrageously incredible soundtrack, it’s hard to believe that this film debuted 14 years ago today. But it did, and while it might not be the best teen movie you have ever seen, it is an absolute classic and anyone who has seen it will tell you that.
In terms of plot, the movie starts out in Chicago, where a young dancer named Ali has moved there after her parents split up. She lives with her Aunt and uncle in a small apartment and is very uncomfortable there. She longs to fit in with the girls in school, but is terrified of their teasing and has no friends. One day, she sees a show on television about Juilliard and she gets obsessed with it and decides that she wants to go to Juilliard one day.
Unfortunately, Ali has a rather difficult time fitting in there, as she is constantly told that she looks like a boy. Her aunt then shows her some pictures of Juilliard stars and tells her that they are all boys. Not only that, but her cousin tells her that she should stop trying to get into any art shows or competitions as she will just be wasting her time and what little chance she has of getting into a good Juilliard school. After all, she is blonde and has blue eyes.
So, Ali decides that she needs to change herself to look more like a girl so that she can be accepted by the other students, and enter Juilliard’s ballet academy. She gets her braids done and gets her make up done at the beauty shop. However, when she goes to Juilliard to try out for the ballet team, no one even bothers to give her a look back. She ends up missing out on her chance to save the dance.
Years later, her younger cousin invites her to her grandmother’s party, but before she goes, she decides to take Ali’s advice and go to an audition for a girls’ ballet dancer talent showcase in Chicago. While she does not get the job as the favorite performer, she does learn a lot about herself by watching other auditioners. It is then that Ali realizes that she really wants to be a ballet dancer, but her parents think that she will just end up like another white girl. They pressure her to go back to them and her cousins are even more annoyed by her attitude, so they convince her to go out of town and never return. This causes Ali to have more self-doubt about her desire to be a ballerina, but before she knows it, she is heading to her first ever audition, where she meets Chandra.
As the relationship between Ali and Chandra develops, Ali falls in love with her, but Chandra doesn’t seem too keen on giving up her dream of becoming a ballet dancer. Things heat up when Chandra gets an invitation to Washington, D.C., for the annual White House Ball, and Ali realizes that she has to go. Once there, however, she runs into President Bartlet and realizes that she might have a chance at a career in politics if she is able to impress him. Meanwhile, Chandra gets a chance to meet President Obama and realizes that she might have a chance at a job in his administration after the party is over. With the threat of a terrorist attack still hanging over the city, things are looking good for Ali and Chandra as they work to save the dance.