Natalia

Breaking Pointe Season Two

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Napoleon is responsible for something besides warfare: probably his most lasting contribution to Europe was the Napoleonic Code, which has formed the basis of the legal systems in France, the former French colonies, and in many European countries that were occupied by Napoleon's armies (Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Poland, AND their former colonies). Civil codes in Egypt, Canada and South America are supposed to be based upon the Napoleonic Code as well. So, an important European figure for various reasons.

But now back to Ronnie Underwood and his bare chest!

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One more aspect of this series to complain about. Perpetuating the stereotype of the air headed dancer.

At least the other dancers seemed taken aback that Zach had never heard of Napoleon.



My question is, why did Sklute assign Josh to learn the part in the first place? That seems cruel if he didn't intend to cast him. And what happens now if Zach is out, and he has to ask Josh to go on for him?

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Sklute showed Josh's photo to Somes during the casting dinner, which was late in the game; he may have had reservations until the end.

Because of the way the show has been shot and the characters on which its focused, it's as if there are few dancers in Ballet West except the ones in they show. There might have been others auditioning/learning the Suitors who were never shown to us. It's hard to imagine that no one else learned/auditioned for part in such a major production even though we may never see it; although no one else was in the public cast list for Suitors except Zach and Ronald Tllton, the Wellington, leaving it to chance that either couldn't be ill or injured during the rehearsal period or run isn't very prudent. It wouldn't have been logically credible for Sklute to have said, "I'm not giving you the role because I'm worried about making you the butt of jokes, but, oh, by the way, I will in an emergency," although it's human, especially when someone is ambivalent, to leave it up to fate to make the decision for them, on the one hand, and on the other, bosses are not known for selflessness in general, and dancers have to suck it up a lot.

Casting Spoilers

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Very true. After watching this episode, I asked my daughter (now in college) what she learned in high school about Napoleon. Her response "Nothing really. I didn't take European History, mom!"

Didn't they cover the Louisiana Purchase in American History?

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One more aspect of this series to complain about. Perpetuating the stereotype of the air headed dancer.
At least the other dancers seemed taken aback that Zach had never heard of Napoleon.

Somehow, dancers come across differently in the film "Etoiles: Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet". ;)

Didn't they cover the Louisiana Purchase in American History?

They did at my public school - though I confess to being particularly bored at that point. It's hard for a kid to care about such things.

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Dancers at the schools of Paris Opera Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, and at the Vaganova Academy are given a full academic curriculum while they are at the school. American dancers have to fend for themselves when it comes to their educations, and not all US school systems are flexible with the schedules for elite athletes and dancers.

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The US is a large and diverse nation of 50 states and various territories and districts, each governing their educations separately and individually. With 312 million residents - the size of 2/3 of Europe - there are going to be some good and bad education systems.

On the other hand, I watched "The White Queen" with my mother last night after dinner. She didn't learn a thing about European / British history. It was very frustrating to watch with her and have to over-explain everything (except the sex scenes, of course). Then I had to explain the fictional Phillipa Gregory embellishments to the story. Such a shame, because the original is such a fine story without embellishment.

Back to Napoleon, the wars in that time really set boundaries that were contested in the 20th century. It was also a lesson in what happens when Democracy fails and a dictator (ahem, First Consul) takes over. It gives context to Russia's long held suspicion of the West, and anti French hostilities.

I understand Zach's ignorance, but on the other hand - Google is the new Encyclopedia! A little curiosity paired with a search engine will do wonders for your enlightenment.

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Zach made it clear in the episode that his education was curtailed, so the diversity of education systems in the US is only relevant if he wanted to remain in a decent school system, but the system wouldn't accommodate his schedule.

Google would only be relevant if Zach knew that Napoleon was a historical person and not simply a fictional character in a ballet.

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Love or Ballet


(Ep. 204)


Original Air Date: 8.12.13



Relationship angst. Christiana in rehearsal, Ian hurting while rehearsing. Gratuitous Zach. Gratuitous Ronnie. Gratuitous go-go dancers (can't really call them strippers).



OK, strictly speaking, Ronnie and Zach footage is not gratuitous as they are part of the company, but there's next to nothing about ballet here - it's about goofy behavior and cheap laughs. Zach does make the statement that (and I'm paraphrasing) 'if you love ballet you don't want to be stuck in the Corps de Ballet'. He doesn't realize how demanding Corps roles can be, especially at the big companies. The very best companies have entire corps largely made up of Christiana Bennetts (not Zachs).

The ballet footage is confined to rehearsal shots - this episode is about people's relationship struggles. There is, however, an interesting interview in Adam Sklute's office (and more contract interviews next week, I guess). I couldn't help but notice that Sklute is wearing his winter-weight clothes and a muffler, while his dancers are in their practice clothes. But it's kind of nice that he dresses up.

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I hate the repetitive depiction of dancers as uneducated party animals. And is that really what people--even teenagers--find entertaining to watch? Ugh...

But do I find it rather entertaining that Alison's "plot" is a retread (a pale one, but still) of the classic ballet movie plot. Ballet or Love? To Dance or to Marry? It's the Red Shoes, but also Anne Bancroft versus Shirley Maclaine in Turning Pointe or even the Yvette Chauvire related plot in La Mort du Cygne -- in which the adoring ballet student-admirer (who commits a crime on behalf of Chauvire's ballet career) discovers Chauvire is willing to chuck being a ballerina to get MARRIED--at which point the student is suitably disillusioned. Chauvire's competitor, Mia Slavenska, on the other hand turns out to value ballet before everything.

(In a recent video about Olga Smirnova, the young ballerina quite wonderfully announces her preference for being alone so she can do nothing but eat, think, drink,and breathe ballet. She may grow out of it--I guess it would be good for her if she does at least a little--but I love the performance of the single mindedness of the true ballerina-artist.)

The Alison plot has got a bit of today's feminist overlay (maybe, not sure about that) plus the "love" in this case, as edited, seems a teensy bit equivocal. But still...I assume the arc is going to be that the Doctor boyfriend finally goes to see her dance and has a change of heart. At least I hope that's the arc.

(Of course I respect whatever Alison decides blah, blah--her decision...real person...not a plot point etc....I just know what ballet myths I prefer. And what feminist ones, too, come to think of it.)

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There’s also Garbo’s tormented Grusinskaya in "Grand Hotel" and of course the recent example of Nina in "Black Swan," slave to and victim of the pursuit of perfection.

It is nice that in other respects we’ve gone beyond the concept of ballerina as quasi-sexless sacrificial lamb to her art (those last photographs of Pavlova are not happy ones).

the "love" in this case, as edited, seems a teensy bit equivocal.

I agree. And any final judgment is tough in DeBona’s case because our information is limited and she’s the only one who gets to talk to the camera. It’s a fact that sustaining an affair or marriage at a distance over long periods of time is difficult under any circumstances and the partners may drift apart. They've already broken up once before - DeBona’s Tilton complications took up much of last season.....

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The good doctor is in residence in Detroit. Grand Rapids is appx 3 hours away (per mapquest). Perhaps Ms DeBona could audition at Grand Rapids Ballet? It seems to be an up and coming company with an interesting rep.

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I was surprised that DeBona said there was no ballet nearby, because I thought immediately of Grand Rapids Ballet, and Patricia Barker is really making something with the company.

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The good doctor is in residence in Detroit. Grand Rapids is appx 3 hours away (per mapquest). Perhaps Ms DeBona could audition at Grand Rapids Ballet? It seems to be an up and coming company with an interesting rep.

3 hours one way is a hefty commute - doesn't seem doable to me. DeBona would need to rent an apartment in Grand Rapids presumably and spend the week there, and commute back to Detroit on the weekends. Exactly what her boyfriend is trying to avoid. But he also seems to have an issue with the ballet world. I think he wants a stay-at-home wife who will always "be there for him". Ironically, it is far easier for health care practicioners to find work in ANY North American metropolis than it is for a ballet dancer. For a doctor with the right credentials and a good record the opportunities are vast.

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If she wants to keep dancing into her 30's then I think the 3 hour commute could be workable - until they decide to have kids. I have many friends who made it work between Portland and Seattle (same driving distance). He's currently working in his residency, so I'm not sure how long it will last in Detroit. I have to say all the medical residents I have met over the years worked 90 hour days and in their off time mainly wanted to sleep, eat and veg out in front of the TV. So she may have quite a bit of "alone" time.

Afterwards, as mentioned, the opportunities to relocate are vast.

All that said, Ms DeBona may decide that if she's dancing Winter Fairy at age 29, she is not going to be promoted to Principal. So why not start her family sooner than later, and not worry so much about the dwindling odds of fertility if she waits until later on?

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3 hours one way is a hefty commute - doesn't seem doable to me

Beats flying in from Utah.

Last night he explained the circumstances of his residency wouldn't allow a move. Assuming that's true, we don't have any indication that he would insist she stay at home, although as far as we know she has no training except as a dancer. He does want kids. These days not all couples can afford a non-working spouse regardless of ideology. No reason why he can't wait a few more years, though. If one of them meets someone else, such is life. (Allison should remind him, or someone should remind her, that engagements in Victorian days could last for almost a decade.)

In any case I hope DeBona makes up her mind quickly, because I'm getting a bit tired of hearing her talk about it to all and sundry, including the friend with the important eyebrows, and this subplot could wear out fast. But then she might get together with Rex again. I'm trying to be loyal to the show but I don't think I could face that.

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3 hours one way is a hefty commute - doesn't seem doable to me

Beats flying in from Utah.

Last night he explained the circumstances of his residency wouldn't allow a move. Assuming that's true, we don't have any indication that he would insist she stay at home, although as far as we know she has no training except as a dancer. He does want kids. These days not all couples can afford a non-working spouse regardless of ideology. No reason why he can't wait a few more years, though. If one of them meets someone else, such is life. (Allison should remind him, or someone should remind her, that engagements in Victorian days could last for almost a decade.)

In any case I hope DeBona makes up her mind quickly, because I'm getting a bit tired of hearing her talk about it to all and sundry, including the friend with the important eyebrows, and this subplot could wear out fast. But then she might get together with Rex again. I'm trying to be loyal to the show but I don't think I could face that.

DeBona's doctor friend won't be moving anywhere for up to 3 years, that's true. No way around that one.

I agree that this subplot has gotten old as 'entertainment', though for DeBona it's going to necessarily drag on. I'm thinking that Bennett and Ruud may have a bigger problem: they actually ARE married, and they're in a bad place. But their actual private life doesn't appear on screen, so who knows what that consists of. Can't say I want to know too much more anyway. I'd like to hear more details of the Cinderella production without the farcical Zach bits.

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I was amused when one of the girls in the bar told Chris Ruud that she’d had a crush on him when she was eight. An Old-Married-Guy-Moment for Chris!

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Fighting Tooth and Nail

(Ep. 205)


Original Air Date: 8.19.13

For those that haven't watched yet, I'll just say that this episode deals mainly with contract renewals (or not). There is one "surprise" that is not really much of a surprise. (Especially if you have done any research on the dancers outside of what the TV show tells you).

For me, it's interesting to see how Sklute handles his dancers (with a camera on his face the whole time - that does take some guts, or ego). There's more angst over long-distance relationships (existing, and maybe to come).

I do have a question for those in-the-know: Why are Zach and Ian in a kind of all-or-nothing competition? Are the dancers in Ballet West 2 only allowed a certain number of years to participate, and then they are either promoted to the regular company or removed? And if so, what is the time period of this 'apprenticeship'?

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And here's ep 2 cut down to about 12min

I'm loving the edited versions. Please keep them coming, EvilNinja!

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Why are Zach and Ian in a kind of all-or-nothing competition? Are the dancers in Ballet West 2 only allowed a certain number of years to participate, and then they are either promoted to the regular company or removed? And if so, what is the time period of this 'apprenticeship'?

BW2 only allows dancers 2 years in the 2nd company. After that deadline, they are promoted to the main company as apprentices, or they are out. There was a previous episode where Adam Sklute discussed this. During the 1st season he impressed me mainly as as pompous burrow of a leader. But this season, I see more compassion.

I can't believe I'm getting sucked into this show again! I did agree with Adam's decision regarding which male dancer to promote. The one not chosen was rougher around the edges (although I'm sure it could be easily resolved with additional coaching). I'm pleased he landed on his feet!

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Why are Zach and Ian in a kind of all-or-nothing competition? Are the dancers in Ballet West 2 only allowed a certain number of years to participate, and then they are either promoted to the regular company or removed? And if so, what is the time period of this 'apprenticeship'?

BW2 only allows dancers 2 years in the 2nd company. After that deadline, they are promoted to the main company as apprentices, or they are out. There was a previous episode where Adam Sklute discussed this. During the 1st season he impressed me mainly as as pompous burrow of a leader. But this season, I see more compassion.

I can't believe I'm getting sucked into this show again! I did agree with Adam's decision regarding which male dancer to promote. The one not chosen was rougher around the edges (although I'm sure it could be easily resolved with additional coaching). I'm pleased he landed on his feet!

Thanks, Jayne - that's what I was wondering. Somehow I'd forgotten exactly what was said about the BW 2 organization.

I too understand why Sklute would choose the person he did from BW 2 - it's essential to find someone whose dancing is consistently of good quality. It's not enough to have the right look, one has to execute reliably, again and again. Ironically, the loser in this situation had the more grown up attitude about life and work, imo, but not the skill set (at least not yet).

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Jayne, do you know where "the one not chosen" "landed on his feet"? I googled but was not able to find the info. Also, the dancers with the designation of apprentice are listed under corps members on the BW website. Are they full corps members now or do they simply not distinguish the title of apprentice on the website? Anyone know?

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