This Center Stage hunk is completely unrecognizable today

Twenty years after the deliciously dance-worthy flick Center Stage premiered in theaters, members of the cast reunited for the first time in almost two decades with behind-the-scenes intel on a Zoom video chat reunion in early September 2020. Among them included Zoë Saldana, Amanda Schull, Sascha Radetsky, and Ethan Stiefel, all of whom chimed in with insider info from the making of the 2000 ballet-centric cult film classic. And all of the members present for the Zoom chat went on to establish lauded careers in various facets of the entertainment industry (Saldana as an A-list movie star, Schull as a TV staple in shows like Pretty Little Liars, and Radetsky and Stiefel as ballet titans).

However, the thing that caused the greatest stir among Center Stage stans wasn’t the behind-the-scenes intel, but the new look Stiefel sported during the video conference call. Stiefel — who played ballet bad boy Cooper Nielson — initially made an impression on fans as a leather jacket-wearing Lothario prone to riding motorcycles onstage in the midst of a classic ballet as a furrow-browed Peter Gallagher looked on disapprovingly. But during the Zoom call in question (which served as a fundraiser for the American Ballet Theatre’s Crisis Relief Fund), he was seen sporting a very, very different look.

So, what does Ethan Stiefel look like now? Read on to find out. 

Cooper from 'Center Stage' looks a bit different than he used to

As Page Six noted in their coverage of the September 2020 Center Stage reunion fundraiser, the cult film’s Ethan Stiefel now resembles “a Cher-era Gregg Allman” — and their descriptor isn’t that far off. The reception Stiefel received regarding the debut of his new look — complete with face shag and blond, flowing locks — was somewhat mixed, to put it kindly. As per Page Six, reactions from fans on social media ranged from calling his new get-up “a look” to “a choice.” 

Despite any criticism Stiefel’s new ‘do drew, his career has been nothing but an illustrious upward trajectory. After making his silver-screen debut as Cooper in Center Stage, Stiefel continued to serve as a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre company (a role he occupied from 1997 until 2012) and worked as the artistic director for the Royal New Zealand Ballet from 2011 to 2014.

While Stiefel’s new look might have taken center stage (pun certainly intended), another major highlight from the Zoom chat was a focus on diversity within the ballet world, which actress Zoë Saldana, who trained as a classical dancer before switching to acting, had a vested interest in. “I was incredibly discouraged with the lack of diversity in the classical form dance,” Saldana said of her years as a dancer. “So booking Center Stage was a sign from the universe.”

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