One of the biggest male ballet stars of the post-Baryshnikov generation, Ethan Stiefel moved around regularly as a child due to his father's job as a Lutheran minister. While living in Madison, Wisconsin, in the early 1980s, he followed an older sister into ballet classes; by the end of the decade, he was in New York City studying with his idol Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev and other major dancers. An award-winning dancer who has worked with ballet companies around the globe, he is also a respected teacher of young dancers. Following in the footsteps of Baryshnikov and Nureyev, both of whom dabbled in film acting during the 1980s, Stiefel made his film debut in the 2000 dance drama "Center Stage". Set in a fictionalized version of the School of the American Ballet (Stiefel's own alma mater), the film follows a group of young students over the course of their studies. Stiefel plays opposite Peter Gallagher, who portrays the school's director and choreographer, as the headstrong dancer and instructor who wants to break into choreography even if it means breaking away to form his own company. In 2008, Stiefel and Gallagher were the only members of the cast of the original movie to appear in the direct to video sequel "Center Stage: Turn It Up".