Erik Ostling, THE CW
Sing along with these revised lyrics to a song from “A Chorus Line”:
“Everyone is bickering at the ballet. Tortured kings lift drama queens in tights. No, no one is content at the ballet. I crave attention. I need fulfillment. I’m a prima ballerina. At. The. Ballet.”
The CW network’s “Breaking Pointe” continues as season 2 of the reality show that closely examines the personal lives of select Ballet West dancers premieres Monday, July 22 at 8 p.m.
If it’s possible to be simultaneously exasperated and enraptured with a TV program, “Breaking Pointe” is on that list. Ballet fans want to see dancers dance — develop their talents, strive for perfection and perform with vigor and grace. They don't want pubescent teenagers cat-scratching and caterwauling. It doesn’t help matters when the company’s artistic director, Adam Sklute, is interviewed at the beginning of the one-hour episode and compares the corps de ballet to high school freshmen and principal dancers to a senior class.
There’s no denying the tremendous exposure Ballet West receives from the national broadcasts, and Sklute most definitely made a shrewd business decision allowing filming inside the cloistered rehearsal rooms above downtown Salt Lake’s Capitol Theatre. Balletomanes worldwide would be ecstatic if ballet was cool. Toe shoes and tutus as popular as knee guards and Nikes? Wake me, I’m dreaming.
If the series were to be filmed by PBS, “Breaking Pointe” would be more universally embraced, because the editorial direction would be radically altered. But CW is the network airing “The Vampire Diaries,” “America’s Next Top Model” and “Gossip Girl,” so the evening’s playbill includes manufactured drama and romantic entanglements played out for TV broadcast.
This is no spoiler, because all the advance clips have made it clear: Rex and Allison are kaput. The final scene from last season teased, but the on-again-and-off-again, will-they-or-won’t-they relationship between Rex and Allison has ended.
Last season’s most famous lines (“What do you want?” / “I want you!”) are replaced with “It just didn’t work out” from Allison and “I love Allison, but I’m not in love with Allison” from Rex. Allison has reunited with an old flame, an out-of-state medical intern she video chats with daily. And Rex is, well, bruised.
The hyper-masculine Ronnie, the first soloist aching to be promoted to principal, has suffered a possible career-ending foot injury, and we see him at two doctor appointments — and on a grocery-shopping trip to Harmon’s to stock the bar for a party.
It sounds promising when Sklute announces that the company is about to stage “Cinderella,” its largest and most demanding production to date, and Ballet West is one of only two U.S. companies given the rights to produce this version. Which version is that? Christopher Wheeldon’s update as performed by the San Francisco Ballet in a co-production with the Dutch National Ballet? Walt Disney’s, with Jaq and Gus? Sklute doesn’t say. Only that Wendy Ellis Somes has been brought in from the Royal Ballet to stage it.
Oh, so it’s Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Cinderella,” first performed in London in 1948, and Joffrey Ballet is the only other U.S. company to perform the work. Dramaturgs and passionate ballet observers would know, but not the average viewer. Any hope of educating TV audiences on the history of ballet is dashed.
The exploited tug of war between Christiana and Beckanne continues. Ronnie’s roommate, Silver, who also likes to party hearty, returns to the company as a supplemental dancer. A few Ballet West II dancers are introduced, including Zach, who announces, “I live for petty drama.”
And filming continues. At. The. Ballet.
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