Save the Last Dance
Grade 10 Ballet Video
As a promising dancer in high school, Sarah Johnson hoped to be admitted to study at Juilliard and
invited her mother to attend the audition. Sarah failed in this first attempt, then was horrified to discover
that her mother had been involved in a fatal car crash in her haste to arrive at the tryout. Wracked with
guilt, Sarah gives up on ballet entirely. After her mother's death, Sarah moves in with her estranged
father. He plays the trumpet in a local Chicago jazz band and lives in a predominantly African American
neighbourhood. At her new high school, Sarah is one of only a handful of white girls, but is befriended
quickly by Chenille. Chenille's brother, Derek, is a promising student with dreams of going to Georgetown
Chenille invites Sarah to a dance club called STEPPS, where she has her first experience dancing to
hip hop rhythms. Derek dedicates himself to helping her develop her talent, as they practice in abandoned
warehouses, school classrooms and anywhere they can find. As they become closer, Derek takes a reluctant
Sarah to the Joffrey Ballet and afterwards, Sarah confides in him all about her mother and her dreams of
Juilliard. Later they return to the club and amaze others with their dancing, although Derek also sees his
ex-girlfriend, Nikki, and engages in a round of "dirty dancing" with her, temporarily putting off Sarah.
Little by little, Derek and Sarah become romantically involved. Having already achieved his dream of being
accepted at Georgetown, Derek convinces her that she needs to do what she wants, and to follow her
dreams, but she needs to get back into dance shape.
Back at school, Nikki picks a fight with Sarah. Chenille tells Sarah that she didn't approve of the
fight but can understand the bitterness since Sarah, a white girl, is seen as stealing one of the few good
black men in the school. Because of this, Sarah breaks up with Derek.
Derek also has a friend named Malakai from whom he has become somewhat estranged. After a
drive-by at the basketball court, Malachi wants payback, and needs help. Derek is torn over repaying his
friend's past loyalty at the risk of his own college plans.
Scenes of Sarah's audition for Juilliard, in which Derek arrives at a crucial moment to offer
encouragement, alternate with scenes of Malakai's shoot-out, in which friends are killed by a rival gang and
Malakai is arrested. The film closes as Derek, Sarah, Chenille and their friends join at STEPPS to celebrate
Sarah's successful audition.
Questions (Please answer in FULL SENTENCES on a separate piece of paper!)
1. Throughout the movie, you see examples of hip hop and ballet, as well as a mix of the two. Describe
some of the differences and similarities between these two styles, using examples from the movie
2. Compare Ballet with some of the styles we have already done (jazz & tap). What are some
similarities between ballet and these styles? What are some differences?
3. Sarah (the main character) is very passionate about her dancing. Give examples from the movie
(dancing examples and non-dancing examples) that show her passion.
4. What types of cultural problems come up for Sarah when she moves to her father’s neighbourhood
and starts attending school there? What about when she and Derek start dating? Give examples.