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11 Stars Who Left Dance Behind For The Hollywood Spotlight

Most celebrities have been preparing for fame their entire lives, but these stars were also sweating it out in dance studios. While some A-list actors took dance classes when they were growing up, this batch was actually on the professional track. Some studied at conservatories or art schools, while others spent their formative years with actual dance gigs. Even a few of the stars danced into adulthood, reprising their love of dance for films that required dancing. Click through to see some of the actresses (and actors) who trained to be professional ballet dancers, including Neve Campbell, Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Christopher Walken, Charlize Theron and Sarah Jessica Parker!

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman won the Academy Award for best actress for “Black Swan,” which also snagged best picture and best director in the 2011 Oscars. The actress danced until she was a teen then, like Campbell, she prepared for her role in the movie with rigorous training. In an interview with The New York Times, she said she did ballet workouts and even practiced between takes.

Christopher Walken

Yes, Christopher Walken did that awesome dance music video for Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” that is now legendary. And someone compiled every dance scene he’s ever filmed into one amazing video. But he also trained to be a dancer growing up in Queens, New York, and attended the famed Professional Children’s School.

Zoë Saldana

Fans of “Center Stage” will remember that Zoë Saldana was the star of the 2000 film, playing the rebel ballerina Eva, who is seriously gifted. That came naturally for Zoë, who studied dance growing up in the Dominican Republic at the ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy. Ballet landed her the role in “Center Stage,” her first movie. She told “Cosmopolitan for Latinas” she eventually quit dance to pursue acting.

Jenna Dewn-Tatum

Another dancer-turned-superstar is Jenna Dewan-Tatum, who shot to fame thanks to her role in “Step Up” alongside her now-husband Channing Tatum. But before the 2006 film, she was a backup dancer for Janet Jackson as well as other music videos. From an early age, she studied dance, including ballet, modern and hip hop.

Neve Campbell

Not only did Neve Campbell star in the awesome 2003 ballet movie “The Company” about the Joffrey Ballet, but she’s been training for years. The actress said she started when she was 6, then quit when she was a teen. She ended up training 8 1/2 hours a day for six months to prepare for her role in “The Company,” she told “The Associated Press,” and was even offered a job by Joffrey after the movie wrapped.

Mila Kunis

Portman’s “Black Swan” co-star Mila Kunis also learned the art of ballet for her role as the rival in the movie with three months of daily ballet practice. She also described her training as “ballet on crack,” to the New York Times.

Diane Kruger

Diane Kruger was a model before she was an actress, but she was also a ballet dancer before becoming a model. Born in Germany, she moved to London when she was 11 for intensive training with the Royal Ballet School. “I don’t think I had the talent to be a prima ballerina,” she told The Guardian. “I think it actually led me, through very mysterious ways, to acting.” She also danced in the 2004 movie, “Wicker Park.”

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron left her home in South Africa to became a model when she was just 16, but then moved to New York to attend the Joffrey Ballet School. But she told the WSJ Magazine, she quit dance because of a knee injury.

Elisabeth Moss

Long before “Mad Men,” Elisabeth Moss was actually a dancer, having studied at the School of American Ballet in New York and also as a student in Washington D.C. She eventually decided to act instead, she told the New York Times.

Sarah Jessica Parker

She may be best known as Carrie Bradshaw, but SJP was a ballerina first — even before her “Footloose” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” days. “I was a ballet dancer at the American Ballet Theatre in the 1970s, but I started dancing in Cincinnati before I moved to New York,” she told the New York Times. “Eventually, I had to make a decision between acting and dancing. But I love ballet and I still dream I can dance.”

Maddie Ziegler


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