Given that I loved Center Stage, I was expecting much of the same: an uncomplicated plot that serves as the vehicle for some truly amazing dancing, with sufficient charisma and star quality to fill out the movie.
Unfortunately, a pretty face smiling her way through even the angsty parts doesn't quite make up for actual acting ability. And I'm not convinced that the dancing quality is as high as the previous movie; the choreography certainly doesn't strike the same high notes. In addition, while Peter Gallagher's reprise of his character makes sense, Ethan Stiefel's appearance seems a lot more pasted in. He provides the counterpoint of "good teacher" to Peter Gallagher's "mean teacher", and yet again is the (fairly disinterested!) rival love interest for the story.
I liked the premise, that a talented dancer fails her audition to a prestigious dance school, and works her way to success by perseverance and finding a fresh new style... but that isn't really an accurate summary of the plot. The idea that you can be a talented dancer with only a couple of years of learning ballet on your own from videos is really kinda horrifying! A promising dancer, maybe, but certainly not ready for a career. And the idea that the school directors were mean for refusing her on the basis that she wasn't as good as the other applicants is really quite crazy. This is reflected in the fact that in order to make her struggles sympathetic, Kate has to be pitted against the foes of poverty, a stalkery psycho-dancer with an influential daddy and entitlement issues who wants Kate's boyfriend as more than a professional partner, and the terror of disappointing her sister who believes she passed the all-important audition.