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ballet dancers in television roles


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#31 MommaJambe

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Posted 25 September 2002 - 06:00 AM

Originally posted by Dale
Diagnosis Murder
The Red's Shoes  
60 min.  
Amanda goes undercover as a dancer when a Chinese ballet star, who was about to defect to the U.S., is murdered by someone who poisoned his acupuncture needles. Amanda: Victoria Rowell. Steve: Barry Van Dyke. Mark: Dick Van Dyke.  


Watched this episode last night. Not much dancing, but I thought it was interesting when the character Amanda gave her dance history. It was based on Victoria Rowell's real life; she was a foster child and studied at ABT and SAB.

#32 Faustine

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 04:21 AM

I had to see it for myself to believe it, but there's actually an episode of BONANZA where an injured dancer trains an aspiring ballerina for the San Francisco Ballet.

#33 Mel Johnson

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 04:23 AM

If I recall correctly, the dancer was played by Barrie Chase.

#34 dirac

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 09:44 AM

Barrie Chase, it was. She’s better known, of course, for her television appearances as Fred Astaire’s partner in his very successful Sixties television specials. (The gap in age may give one pause, at least it gave this viewer pause, but they work very well together and she was reputed to be his favorite partner, a large statement considering the competition. There are photographs of them in rehearsal, and Fred, who could be very fussy and demanding, looks entranced. They were also romantically linked for awhile, in gossip at any rate.)

Thank you, Faustine, for reviving this thread. I am reminded of the "Cheers" episode in which Diane, the character played by Shelley Long, is taking ballet lessons. No dancers appear except briefly, but it's a funny show. Briefly, Diane, under the mistaken impression that her teacher believes she has great talent, auditions for Boston Ballet.

#35 bart

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 10:43 AM

And what happens? Does she make it?

#36 dirac

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 11:24 AM

Well, she doesn’t actually audition. Because of plot developments too complicated to go into here, Diane believes mistakenly that her teacher regards her as a great unfulfilled talent, so she goes to Boston Ballet clad in bright blue tights to make her case. She barges onstage while the dancers are rehearsing to Tchaikovsky and makes a speech declaring her dedication to dance, and receives grudging permission to go ahead, but after a last minute interrruption decides not to do so. Long is very funny, and it’s a cute show. There is a bit of business about a video that Diane has made of her dancing, but we never get to see it.

(Earlier in this thread, I made references to "junk." After recent viewing a few episodes of shows like "Happy Days" after a long time, I have to say that it was a better show than I gave it credit for, really quite good on its own terms.)

#37 carbro

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 11:42 AM

I thought Barrie Chase was Astaire's best partner. She was a better dancer than any of the others, and the chemistry between the two was great, overriding the age difference.

George de la Pena played a Russian ballet dancer in at least two tv shows. (One may have been a made-for-tv movie.) Of course, I don't remember one (except for my thought, George playing a Russian dancer again?!), but the other was an LA Law, where he was represented by the distinctly non-ballet dancing Conchata Ferrell.

Maybe someone can fill in my considerable blanks.

#38 sparklesocks

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 09:34 AM

Victor Barbee was also in a Murder She Wrote. He was a defecting Russian; that's all I can remember.

I can't even remember the name of the show, but the master from "The Karate Kid" had a TV series for a short while, and there was a dancer who, doing her barre in the park (where else?) saw a murder. They knew they'd been spotted and pursued her. But never fear. She felled them with one hell of a grand battement.

And there was an escaping ballerina episode on Starsky and Hutch. She fell in love with one of them -- I'd never seen the show before this, so I never knew which one.

And there's the famous Gelsey Kirkland on L.A. Law episode


"one hell of a grand battement." Hee hee!

If the Gelsey Kirkland episode is the one I'm thinking of, then I remember seeing it and feeling that it was great to see her dance, while painful to see how "botoxy" she looked.

#39 sparklesocks

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 09:37 AM

Oh. And of course there are the "almost" dancers on soaps, such as Victoria Rowell on The Young and the Restless. I believe she trained at ABT. When she first arrived on Y&R, she danced quite often.

#40 Marga

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 01:39 PM

Does anyone remember Zena Bethune? I thought it fascinating when I was young that a ballet dancer would become a soap opera actress. This was back in the 60s. She later went on to star in a TV show called "The Nurses". I seem to remember that after her television experiences, she went back to the performing arts in some capacity.

#41 carbro

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 02:03 PM

I do remember Zena Bethune! Wasn't The Nurses originally an afternoon soap that moved to prime time and adapted to prime time norms?

What about Lea Thompson, ex-ABT school, who starred in Caroline in the City?

A pair of sit-com friends, Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper, both aspired to ballet careers before finding success in a verbal art form.

#42 Marga

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 02:21 PM

carbro, I believe you're right about "The Nurses". I only remember it vaguely.

There's also Jenna Elfman (Dharma and Greg), who at 5'10", thought or was told that she was too tall for ballet. At least that's what the media kept reporting when her sitcom was new and she was a popular subject in entertainment news.

edited to add:
I googled Jenna Elfman and found this passage in an unofficial site about her:

A torn ligament growing up functionally ended her dreams of becoming a ballerina. Though the prestigious Pacific Northwest Ballet did accept her, the pain outweighed the potential, and she passed on the chance.



#43 Cliff

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 09:44 PM

In the coverage of the Robert Altman film, The Company, it was reported that
Neve Campbell had ballet training before becoming an actress.

#44 Marga

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 09:56 PM

Yes, we've discussed her training with the National Ballet School here in Toronto when the film came out. In fact, that thread turned into a list much like this thread has become, except that it wasn't confined to TV. ("The Company" isn't TV either, of course, but Campbell did star in the TV drama Party of Five).

"A new ballet movie" aka list of actors and actresses who danced

#45 Helene

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 01:25 AM

Finola Hughes of General Hospital fame was in pre-professional training as a teenager until she had a career-ending injury.


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