EvilNinjaX

Breaking Pointe

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Reality show featuring Ballet West.

http://blog.zap2it.c...iere-dates.html

"Breaking Pointe" is a backstage look at the dancers in Ballet West in Salt Lake City, "one of the most competitive ballet companies in the country." It will focus on the competition and pursuit of perfection among the members of the company. It will premiere at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 31.

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What is the story on that pointe shoe close-up? Surely that doesn't belong to a Ballet West dancer?

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From the Deseret News (Salt Lake City paper):

Focusing primarily on seven company members, the show will explore what takes place between performances. Cameras will go inside the homes of the dancers, highlighting their strenuous personal lifestyles as dancers and their drive for perfection.

During the six weeks of filming for the show, cameras ventured into Ballet West's rehearsals for their spring production of George Balanchines Emeralds, as well as into artistic director Adam Sklute's office during contract renewals, as he promoted dancers and released others from the company. Sklute explains that in a functional company, dancers must know that "they're special, but also that they're expendable."

Finding the right company to feature was a lengthy process for casting producers. Fifteen ballet schools were considered for casting including the San Francisco Ballet, the Boston Ballet and Juilliard before narrowing the potentials down to three.

Ballet West beat out the competition due to its prestige and social structure featuring only 40 dancers, their somewhat secluded location in Salt Lake City.

There's not much new about the idea that ballet is athletic, highly competitive, and saturated with perfectionism. However, the material described in the second paragraph, above, deals with usually private matters like contract renewals, promotions, and letting dancers go. I wonder how they will handle that?

http://www.deseretne...-on-the-CW.html

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I liked the first episode -- much more than I thought I would. I thought the episode was a nice balance between the inner-workings of a ballet company and the private lives of the dancers. The production company approached the subject matter seriously so the result was actually fairly intelligent. And it didn't hurt that the episode had the glossy look of a CW-show like Gossip Girl.

SPOILERS AHEAD

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I knew Katie was a goner when the show spent so much time focusing on her in company class. (All I could think of was the scene in Fame when the dance teacher told the student Lisa she wouldn't be allowed to continue in the program.) I was glad to see from the previews that she'll be back for at least another episode. I liked her a lot.

My other favorite was 19-year-old Beckanne, who bears a strong resemblance to Audrina Patridge from The Hills. She had better toughen up right quick, though, if she's going to survive in that hothouse environment.

And Ronnie Underwood can't possibly take his shirt off enough over the course of this series! wink1.gif

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Completely over-produced, dancers put in random conversations with each other, discussions during class that would never happen to the extent of what really happens. The whole opening segment was utterly ridiculous, the statements were overly generalized and does not reflect what every dancer feels. While is was nice to see some of my friends on the screen, in the background, I think I will pass on the next couple of weeks. It was shot very a la The Hills on MTV. I think the only saving grace of the show was the principal female dancer that basically told it how it is. If CW wanted to do a show about ballet, just sit back and watch the real life ballet unfold and just be quiet and do not set up the conversations. There has been enough reality TV over the last 15 years that we at home know how it works now.

First Position, is how it should have been shot. Very well done and fantastic storytelling by letting it just happen.

Merde to my friends and peers at Ballet West. But I think I will pass on this show.

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"The Apprentice"...suspense.... "You're fired."

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It was shot very a la The Hills on MTV. I think the only saving grace of the show was the principal female dancer that basically told it how it is.
Exactly my thoughts (except I only watched one episode of "Laguna Beach" and gave up, so never saw "The Hills). In trying to capture the daily grind, they focused on some pretty banal stuff. I would have preferred more time spent on the practice sessions, because Ballet West does have some beautiful dancing. Meh, I'll give it one more episode before I quit. Maybe I'm just not the CW target market / demographic - they want the same girls who watch "America's Next Top Model".

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The producers couldn't have picked a more tense time to start the series.

First Position, is how it should have been shot. Very well done and fantastic storytelling by letting it just happen.

In this recent interview, First Position director Beth Kargman discussed her approach:

One thing I found interesting is that you have this group. And they’re all barreling towards this one competition. In the same place. And yet you don’t have them interact. Was that a conscious decision? Was it just something that happened? And did they know about each other?

Interesting questions. So, one word of advice that I got from very experienced filmmakers when I was going into this project was exactly to do what I didn’t want to do. They would say to me, ‘You must pick one age division, kids who are all the same age, because you want to have them competing against each other. The drama. The tears. The backstabbing.’ When you put them into the same age division, there’s a tendency for things like that to happen. And I strongly felt that it would be far more interesting to chronicle the lives of young dancers who are anywhere from the ages of 10 to 17 to show how the stakes differed depending upon your age. To me, I really thought that I would be able to make the film dramatic even if Girl A wasn’t an enemy or competing with Girl B. And the main reason you don’t see them interact that much is because A, you’re sort of in your own little world when you compete. You really are just focusing on yourself. And B, they canvased three different age divisions.

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I want to go back real quick. You mentioned that you go a lot of advice to get the backstabbing. And you went away from that. Were you nervous or did you just feel in your gut, ‘No, that’s not what I want’?

I attribute part of it to my background as a journalist but I really think that I would have been embarrassed by my work product if one of the kids came up to me after seeing the film and said, ‘You know, I regret being in this. And not only could you affect my career in a negative way, but I wish I had never met you.’ I just wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if someone had come up to me [and said that]. What I think is so much more powerful is when a person comes up to you and says, ‘You accurately portrayed me. Thank you.’ They never said, ‘How come you didn’t only show the perfect parts of my…’ Miko never said, ‘Why did you show me fall?’ Rebecca never said, ‘Why did you show me upset in the dressing room?’ Because they know that’s real life. That’s drama. It’s got to be in there. But I would never just show the bad stuff or just show the times when a person’s crying. You really have to accurately portray what’s really going on. I think there were other ways to make it really dramatic and suspenseful and add tension without it being so-and-so talking badly about so-and-so.

Right after I watched Breaking Pointe, I was watching a show on BOLD, and there was an advertisement for Romeos & Juliets, described in a 2011 press release as:

"Romeos & Juliets will immerse audiences in the creative process of a celebrated choreographer working with both established and upcoming dancers as the legendary lead couple," said Mossanen. "The documentary will allow audiences a rare behind-the-scenes look at the dancers as they push themselves to the limits of their abilities in order to make their mark in these expressive roles."

Romeos & Juliets is an exploration of the process by which the remarkable new National Ballet production of Romeo and Juliet winds its way from rehearsals to opening night. The special follows the dancers' highly charged paths, both inside and outside the studio, and chronicles their emotional journey as they toil to fulfill the high expectations demanded of them. In the end, as opening night arrives, their efforts are realized in a suite of spectacular dances staged especially for the camera.

but the TV spot made it sound like it was made in the same tone as "Breaking Pointe."

I thought the highlight of the first episode of "Breaking Pointe" was how stunning Adam Sklute looked in the suit in the rehearsal at the beginning.

I suspect that Quinn Wharton's film, "Eastern Odyssey" on Tiit Helimet & Co.'s tour to Estonia captured more of the reality of day-to-day life. There were tense moments and some rough conversations, but it felt true, i.e., recognizable in more than the ballet world.

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If CW wanted to do a show about ballet, just sit back and watch the real life ballet unfold and just be quiet and do not set up the conversations.

First Position, is how it should have been shot. Very well done and fantastic storytelling by letting it just happen.

But what is the audience for what you are describing on a network like the CW? I haven't seen First Position. But I have seen the Fred Wiseman documentary about the Paris Opera Ballet and the Pina Bausch documentary and both of those were so boring I nearly passed-out. I thought Breaking Pointe managed to reach a relatively happy medium between the demands of reality TV and the actual life within a company (i.e. contract renewals, the sense of never feeling too secure in your position, etc.)

Maybe I'm just not the CW target market / demographic - they want the same girls who watch "America's Next Top Model".

The CW very specifically targets the women 18-34 demographic (and, on the basis of the upcoming Green Arrow promos I saw during Breaking Pointe, I would say homosexual men as well.)

SPOILER AHEAD

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After Adam fired Katie, I wish she had had the presence of mind to say: "I'll just join the drama department!"wink1.gif

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I saw and rather enjoyed it. How often do we see ballet on 'normal TV'?

Enjoyed the small rehearsal clips of Balanchine's Emeralds and Petipa's Paquita. Hopefully we will see, in the coming episodes, how the rehearsals evolve and, finally, see some substantial performance portions on the stage, in costumes. I watch more for that than for the 'outside melodrama.'

Also, I wonder how many of these dancers we will be seeing in Washington, DC, in the December 2012 Nutcracker tour to the Kennedy Center? By the time they get to DC, many in the audience will 'know' some of the faces quite well.

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I can't help but jumping into this discussion.

I personally don't like how ballet, ballet companies and dancers are presented in the reality shows. I understand you need drama to keep the shows going, and I do feel that it's a positive thing to see ballet on the mainstream media outlet more often nowadays. I just don't like the fact that it's gearing toward to the gossip side of things, when at times (most of time if you ask me) it is completely irrelevant from the art itself and the essence is lost. On one side, yes, the ballet world is open up to the general public in a broader way, that's a plus. Then on the other side, I still don't think the TV viewers actually get to know the "authentic" reality because they are distracted with gossip and rumors. That's creating a false "reality" (do you still call it a reality when it's staged?) about what dancers are like.

I'm not completely against seeing ballet in reality show, I only hope there would be more depth into it.

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I agree, little-junkie. I'm just grateful to see bits of serious ballet on the tube! Last night, I kept thinking that some of the lines seemed to have been scripted...that these dancer-'actors' would not be uttering such words in real life.

Well, If we think that this show is 'phoney' and scripted...wait 'til ABC Family's own ballet-'reality' series begins next week: titled BUNHEADS. (eek!)

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I think I made it very clear in my first post that I am not happy with how the dancers were portrayed. We received enough damage, as dancers, from Black Swan, and now we have to put up with this show making us look infantile. (Can you tell yet that I am upset with this show?) It would have been great for Ballet West to sign on for a project like this with PBS or Ovation. It would have at least been taken seriously. Remember when A&E and Bravo used to show arts all the time, it would be great for them to get a show like this and bring it back to true reality. CW just wants the drama, but now I have to go to everyone that asks me on the street if that is what it is really like. I had to do it with Black Swan and now I have to do it with this show.

OY!

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Enjoyed the small rehearsal clips of Balanchine's Emeralds and Petipa's Paquita.

I've haven't had the chance to watch the program, but your comment gives me hope that the Balanchine Trust may have begun to find a way to work with others to allow the pubic to see more of the choreography. I hope that others can other groups can use whatever process the producers/network/Ballet West used as a road map.

Cheers.

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Well, as someone who enjoyed the show, let me make the case for the defense and then everyone can tell me why I'm wrong.

When Black Swan came out in 2010, there was no small amount of criticism (including on this board) regarding how it presented ballet dancers as grotesques. In contrast, the first episode of Breaking Pointe portrayed the dancers as attractive, fit, hardworking, intelligent, ambitious, occasionally lovelorn young professionals who are doing something they love. Yes, certain scenes were set-ups (particularly the scenes with the dancers talking after they got their contracts). But those expository scenes weren't designed for the seriously confirmed ballet addicts who populate this board. They were designed to help the casual viewer make sense of the narrative. Was the CW underestimating the intelligence of the casual viewer? Maybe. But, by CW standards, I thought the show actually rose above a lowest common denominator mentality.

I also think a lot of truth came out over the course of the episode despite the heavy editing and staginess. We saw the extreme rank consciousness that exists in larger companies and how everyone is always looking to advance. (Even the principal Christiana, who had reached the top, was still seeking to "advance" by perfecting her art.) We saw how dancers (Katie, Allison, even Ronnie) may not be the best judge of what their rank should be or, at the very least, how the artistic director has to weigh a lot of competing demands. We saw a principal dancer (Christiana) being hyper-aware of time at 32, especially given the advent of a 19-year-old up-and-comer. We saw how precarious life can be for a dancer (Katie) and how the supply of dancers is greater than the demand. We saw that everything isn't always sweetness and light in a company (the "fat ankles" exchange, which I don't think for one minute was staged.) We even got to see two female dancers eating what looked like a nutritious meal! (I know the restaurant scene between Beckanne and Katie looked like something out of The Hills but this is one instance where I don't mind the staginess.)

I appreciate the documentaries/programs other posters have mentioned in this thread but, to me, those are boutique items for the already converted. If ballet wants to be something more than being a Gnostic sect in the 21st century, it needs to find a way to engage popular culture. (And by that, I don't mean staging productions of Peter Pan or Dracula or whatever else.) Breaking Pointe may not be perfect but, like Veronika Part appearing on the David Letterman Show and David Hallberg appearing on the Colbert Show, it is at least trying to engage the wider culture.

Give me a second to put on my flame-retardant suit and then everyone can flame away!

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Imspear, it's not as if they showed a lot...but the first episode began with the company's prima (Cristiana) rehearsing the beginning of Violette Verdy's solo (with the twirly arm movements at the start).

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First Position, is how it should have been shot. Very well done and fantastic storytelling by letting it just happen.

I would hardly say Kargman "let it just happen," although I agree First Position is a nice movie. I didn't think last night's episode was so bad. It would have been good to see more dancing and perhaps in the next episodes we will see more. I would think the show would be of interest to any ballet fan and the project is worth attempting. I understand there will be more episodes after this initial series of six if the show does well enough.

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In the preliminary ratings, Breaking Pointe got an 0.3 in the 18-49 demo and just under 1 million viewers. Not great by any means but, given that renewed (and much higher budgeted) CW shows like Gossip Girl, Hart of Dixie and Nikita were getting 0.4s and 0.5s in the demo during the regular season, an 0.3 is OK for a 6-episode Summer series.

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That's not bad, but I have a feeling the show is going to have to provide something jazzier than boy-girl issues and snipes at the new girl's fat feet if it hopes to hang on to the audience and add more.

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I liked it... reality tv is my guilty pleasure (yes I admit it!) and I love ballet so... I just take it with a grain of salt, it was pretty much what I was expecting. I do wish there was more dancing, but I also feel they must be trying to draw in people who don't usually watch ballet related things so it is a "happy medium" for the network.

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I thought the show was terrible. There wasn't much ballet (either for the bunheads and balletomanes or revealing the inner workings to the lay public), and the people in the show all come off looking as fairly terrible people and perhaps not great dancers, which is a shame for such a good company. I blame the producing team 100 percent for this.

The reality TV series on the Royal New Zealand Ballet done a few years ago did a much, much better version of this kind of show. We could relate to the dancers as people, and they showed the inner life of a ballet company.

In contrast, Breaking Pointe was a ballet-flavored soap opera.

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Well, as someone who enjoyed the show, let me make the case for the defense and then everyone can tell me why I'm wrong.

When Black Swan came out in 2010, there was no small amount of criticism (including on this board) regarding how it presented ballet dancers as grotesques. In contrast, the first episode of Breaking Pointe portrayed the dancers as attractive, fit, hardworking, intelligent, ambitious, occasionally lovelorn young professionals who are doing something they love. Yes, certain scenes were set-ups (particularly the scenes with the dancers talking after they got their contracts). But those expository scenes weren't designed for the seriously confirmed ballet addicts who populate this board. They were designed to help the casual viewer make sense of the narrative. Was the CW underestimating the intelligence of the casual viewer? Maybe. But, by CW standards, I thought the show actually rose above a lowest common denominator mentality.

I also think a lot of truth came out over the course of the episode despite the heavy editing and staginess. We saw the extreme rank consciousness that exists in larger companies and how everyone is always looking to advance. (Even the principal Christiana, who had reached the top, was still seeking to "advance" by perfecting her art.) We saw how dancers (Katie, Allison, even Ronnie) may not be the best judge of what their rank should be or, at the very least, how the artistic director has to weigh a lot of competing demands. We saw a principal dancer (Christiana) being hyper-aware of time at 32, especially given the advent of a 19-year-old up-and-comer. We saw how precarious life can be for a dancer (Katie) and how the supply of dancers is greater than the demand. We saw that everything isn't always sweetness and light in a company (the "fat ankles" exchange, which I don't think for one minute was staged.) We even got to see two female dancers eating what looked like a nutritious meal! (I know the restaurant scene between Beckanne and Katie looked like something out of The Hills but this is one instance where I don't mind the staginess.)

I appreciate the documentaries/programs other posters have mentioned in this thread but, to me, those are boutique items for the already converted. If ballet wants to be something more than being a Gnostic sect in the 21st century, it needs to find a way to engage popular culture. (And by that, I don't mean staging productions of Peter Pan or Dracula or whatever else.) Breaking Pointe may not be perfect but, like Veronika Part appearing on the David Letterman Show and David Hallberg appearing on the Colbert Show, it is at least trying to engage the wider culture.

Give me a second to put on my flame-retardant suit and then everyone can flame away!

You overstate the impact of seeing them order a meal in a cafe. They were not shown eating the meal, and it may have been all they ate all day, or it may have been removed.

On balance, I liked watching the show, even though I only saw the last half, and even if portions were objectionable or maybe unnecessary.

I watched this for the ballet, but mostly, I saw this as a show about young people learning and growing in handling their emotions, careers, aspirations, physical capacities, and relationships.

And from miliosr, we expect commentary on the fashion....

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You overstate the impact of seeing them order a meal in a cafe. They were not shown eating the meal, and it may have been all they ate all day, or it may have been removed.

True enough. Of course, given how Black Swan took it on the chin for its depiction of the relationship between ballerinas and eating, I thought the concept of eating (if not the reality) was presented in a positive light.

I watched this for the ballet, but mostly, I saw this as a show about young people learning and growing in handling their emotions, careers, aspirations, physical capacities, and relationships.

Exactly.

And from miliosr, we expect commentary on the fashion....

I didn't understand where Rex thought he was going in Salt Lake City with those red pants he bought. Oh, and did I mention Ronnie's chest? wink1.gif

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