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Julia Stiles Brings Back Her ‘Save the Last Dance’ Routine for ‘SNL’

Chloe Fineman and Julia Stiles sit on chairs in black leotard while Colin Jost and Michael Che sit behind them at the Weekend Update desk on 'Saturday Night Live.'

Julia Stiles stopped by Saturday Night Live last night to revive one of her signature cinematic moments. The actress performed her final “street ballet” dance number from 2001’s Save the Last Dance alongside cast member Chloe Fineman for a sketch during “Weekend Update.”

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The surprise appearance was built around Fineman’s claim that the sexiest gift to give your loved one for the holidays is a recreation of Stiles’ epic dance. And the two did just that, with matching black outfits and chairs. If you’re not a millennial, this reference may not mean anything to you. But if you are, then you undoubtedly watched this film at several slumber parties, begged your mom for the soundtrack (on CD, of course), and practiced those ridiculous dance moves in front of the mirror.

Save the Last Dance is enjoying a renaissance on TikTok, where fans are recreating the iconic final dance number (as well as other scenes) and questioning how Stiles’ hot mess dancing got her into Juilliard. To be fair, this dance is unintentionally hilarious. Is she literally hopping for hip-hop? What even are these moves? And why am I still doing them on the dance floor?

Unfortunately for us geriatric millennials, we have now grown old enough that younger generations are consuming our pop culture and mocking us. And readers, they are right to do so. Alexa, play a hip-hop version of “Cat’s in the Cradle.”

Good for Julia Stiles for being able to roast herself on SNL. She’s a good sport about this trend and is clearly enjoying herself. We’d expect nothing less from our ’90s teen queen.

Stiles played Sarah in the film, a young ballet dancer from the suburbs who moves to inner-city Chicago after her mother dies. Living with her estranged father, Sarah attends a mostly Black high school, where she is exposed to hip-hop for the first time. She meets Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas), who teaches her how to dance and they fall in love. He convinces her to re-audition for Juilliard by combining her ballet moves with hip-hop dancing.

Thomas reunited with his Save the Last Dance co-star Kerry Washington on the set of Reasonable Doubt last year, where they responded to a TikTok video by recreating another famous dance from the film. Washington posted, “You can take the girl outta Save the Last Dance but you can’t take Save the Last Dance outta the girl.”

This is also a reminder to Gen Z: Your time is coming. One day you will be middle-aged, and your children will be coming for your pop culture. Nothing gold can stay!

(featured image: screenshot/NBC)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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