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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Television: Breaking Pointe on the CW-Season 1


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Twinkle Mom

I watched this for the first time last week, partly out of curiosity from what has been written here and hoping to see some dancing. The staged (or so it seemed to me) drama was not interesting, and I was appalled by the scene in the costume shop. Added to those factors that there was so little dancing shown that I won't be watching again.

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These were my original thoughts, as well, burker. By the time it was made, most people would have surely known that reality shows are all about what Hans is saying. The company would have known this going into it and each of those dancers would have known this, as well. So it was a gamble for each party, in some respects. One of the gambles is that once a spin is put on something for the world to see, whether it be an atmosphere at a company or individuals' played up or perhaps enhanced "personalities", that spin becomes an unforgettable "fact" in the eyes of anyone watching, whether they try to dismiss it, or not. I just think the whole thing was a risky endeavor and was surprised that any professional company would want to allow themselves to be used or be put in the reality show quality light - which is so often, unfortunately, probably not reflective of their own taste. Maybe promises were made by producers that this one would be different. As I recall thinking before, the ballet world, in reality (!) seems hard enough to navigate for dancers with all its actual personalities and metaphorical scrims, without layering on this show to their public personas.

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Staged or not, the reality is that there ARE dancers that behave exactly as Allison is doing, both on stage, in rehearsals, and in the costume shop. Those are 'real' types. I've seen them in the pre-pro schools, I've seen them in the college programs, and I can't imagine they don't continue in the companies. Allison's depiction of this 'character' would seem to bolster that, yes, indeed, they are found in companies, too.

 

Now, whether Allison herself really is one of those high-strung, tantrum-prone 'divas', I'll be the first to confess I don't know. But, based upon the face she is showing the public, 'Allison' needs to get a grip and learn to be a professional. I can't imagine that any AD watching or knowing of this footage would not give a second thought to offering her a contract after this. Surely, AD's do 'research' to see how a dancer has behaved at her last contract place.

 

We can nod and wink knowingly that this 'reality' show is not really reality, but the fact remains that it does approximate the issues that DO go on in company life----including high-strung, high maintenance personalities.

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I must agree that I was not at all comfortable with Allison's impatience at the costume fitting. Probably because it hit so close to home and reminded me of the times when, as a costume department volunteer, I had been treated in a similar way by dancers (not to mention their mothers!)

 

I will say, though that Allison has actually been one of my favorites on the show. Yes, she seems to be pretty volatile, but actually strikes me as a kind of "shoot from the hip" person. I generally prefer people who are like this to those who keep their true feelings so tightly wrapped that nobody really knows who they are.

 

I also kept reminding myself that Allison probably is reacting with more stress than the other dancers because she is in a situation which is more stressful. If I remember correctly, she had a number of various roles in this performance ranging from corps to principal & therefore more to learn & more to rehearse than the others. My daughter has been in this situation & I can assure you that it is a very difficult thing to do & there is pretty much NO support from one's peers to help deal with stress. Any venting is met with responses like, "Poor girl, too many roles..."

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Personally, I think Allison is getting a bum rap. She was pegged early on as ****** because she didn't reciprocate some guy's undying devotion to her. But, she was honest with him (and the viewing audience) from the get-go that she didn't want a long-term relationship. Sometimes people are just in different places in what they want out of a relationship. It happens to most everyone at some point in their lives I suppose.

 

Career wise, she's also realizing that, although she's talented, she's not quite where she wants to be. She can see the carrot dangling in front of her, but it's still out of reach. She's a perfectionist but doesn't achieve perfection because she tries too hard.

 

Which leads to ... she seems terribly stressed out in both her professional and personal lives. I don't think the "tantrum" in the costume shop was due to her feeling that she's better than the others but rather was due to her fear that she's not as good and therefore must attend every rehearsal and be "perfect" in order to keep her place in the company and move up to principal. To me, it almost looks as though she's on the verge of a breakdown.

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Yes, which is why I think she needs to 'get a grip'. Her perfectionism will also cause her to blame the costumer when she feels the costume isn't perfect. She needs to take responsibility for herself, give herself a break, and learn to do the best she can and let the rest go.

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Momof3darlings

Ballet for these dancers is a job. That is different from being a student. It's hard to explain but it simply is. I believe if we all think of our workplaces, we will find that people go through things personally that sometimes affect their attitude and demeanor at work. We all know people at work who may have personal relationships (even though there may be rules against it) where it crosses over into productivity at work. We all know people who are not nice to the support staff for whatever reason. We all know new employees who come in and work their way up quickly because they have what it takes but who still may personally be immature. We all know senior employees who may simply just be past all the drama and separated from it.

 

So when I think of the workplaces I've been in there was an Allison and a Beckanne and all the other personalities we see on Breaking Pointe. That simply because it takes all kinds of people in all different places in life to make the world go round. Now whether that is contrived by the producers. (even though the interviews don't seem to slant to that as correct except for how the footage is put together) Or whether that is simply the normal workplace dynamics that one would capture if cameras followed us 24/7 for a few months, who knows?

 

Like others though, if an actual happening Allison needs to put herself in check. The folks in the costume room did not cause her to be cast in too many different pieces. That is hard for any dancer and yes, they do complain about it not because they aren't happy to be cast but because of what it does to their body. You know....that body that they have to keep working optimally in order to make it to the show to perform those roles. A dance career is a wonderful thing for our dancers who happen to achieve that. But to think that they go through life without the normal workplace complaining, drama and mishaps is holding the career to a standard it can't reach. If you're lucky, those things don't dictate the totality of your workplace but even if the drama is "over there" it likely exists.

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LaFilleSylphide

I can't remember the last episode too well.. was she actually portrayed as rude to the costume people? Or was she just shown on her own with other dancers muttering things like, "I need to go... when is this going to be over? How long is this going to take?" If the dancer wasn't actually making quips directly to the costume people, then it might not have been noticed by anyone other than the people she was speaking with at the time. We've all been in situations where we would love to say one thing, but politeness keeps us from saying it directly to a person. I'm sure there have been more than one occasion where an employee has had to listen to their superiors lecture, but whether or not that employee agreed, they still had to comply - and probably comply with a smile. I just don't recall the shots in that episode, if we actually see Apprehensive-Allison snapping at the wardrobe department or not. Eitherway, I exclaimed outloud in surprise when she walked back out on stage and asked Adam if she could re-do her variation! Haha... they made it look like she interrupted other people's rehearsal time. I don't think any professional dancer would ever interrupt the flow of rehearsal though! Not even Anxiety-ridden-Allison.

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I also can't remember the last episode too well... I think I fell asleep for a few minutes near the end. (Hey! I was sick last week!)

 

But what do we really know? Could Allison have been called for her costume fitting too early and left waiting -- missing a tonne of rehearsal, getting cold, while the costumers dilly-dallied then took their lunch all together -- just to generate frustration for the camera? Maybe, maybe not. The point is that anything goes, everything can be taken out of context and nothing can be assumed...

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gav, I hadn't even thought about her getting cold, but that is a good point!!

 

Something else that occured to me... does anyone know if it is likely that they actually were doing costume fittings (and these looked like initial fittings to me) at about the same time as the first stage rehearsals? Wouldn't that have been done just after casting came out? I have no experience with professionals, but this is not the order that things would have happened in the pre-pro company I sewed for.

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LaFilleSylphide

6 episodes, 6 hours - gotta expedite the show no matter what the order. We balletomanes are the only ones who would adore a ballet show that ran for 100+ hours showing entire technique/company classes and rehearsals.

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I use this show as an example of how NOT to act when you are given a correction, when you execute something less than what you would like, etc. Maybe it is for tv, but for my students it has helped show that you cannot act like that...it could cost you your job. *I* cannot act like that in my 'other' job workplace, and I certainly cannot act that way with my dance job. I can't imagine making faces, talking to co-workers from other departments or showing my impatience with them like Allison did (the costumers are her co workers!!)

 

My students like the show and we talk about it and what is 'real' and what could possibly be fake. I think that helps a lot with them. Also, the new Dance Magazine had a lovely article about Beckanne in it and she is lovely. I like her work ethic, and how she acts in rehearsals/class. She is YOUNG (19) and she will make some missteps ...like saying the variation is easy. And, I can see how it is hard to fit in with the older dancers. I have seen it happen in a lot of different work places, not just a dance company. But, the article was very nice and gave some nice insight.

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lovemydancers
I can't imagine making faces, talking to co-workers from other departments or showing my impatience with them like Allison did (the costumers are her co workers!!)

 

Not only are they her coworkers, but she NEEDS them. Let's face it - they contribute to how she looks on stage. Does she want the costume to be done quickly, or to be exactly the way she wants it when she steps onto that stage? Having worked on the wardrobe side of that equation, I can tell you that those dancers who do not freak out, who say "thank you" every time you hook them up or facilitate a quick change, who generally show respect for the equally hard work of those they collaborate with and who help them look their best...are greatly appreciated.

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I use this show as an example of how NOT to act when you are given a correction, when you execute something less than what you would like, etc. Maybe it is for tv, but for my students it has helped show that you cannot act like that...it could cost you your job.

 

I agree with b1. My dd saw a couple of episodes of this show for the first time last week. I think she too was able to intuit what might be tv drama. I found her responses were interesting. I think, perhaps, that many dancers are so completely immersed in their own particular world of ballet (even at the young student level) that they often can't see the wood for the trees. She was watching this with her non-ballet friend and making occasional comments that showed that she was looking at various behaviors and objectifying and analyzing them in relation to her own limited experiences. So it didn't really matter if dancer X really did what the camera said s/he did. It was enough that dd saw what that looked like and recognized it as helpful or undesirable. This is the only ballet related show/book/movie that dd has shown the least bit interest in. She has absolutely no time for dance Moms, Dance Academy or much of the other ballet themed stuff out there.

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When I watch, I assume everything is "made for TV", and is edited to create a more interesting show. This may sound harsh, but I have very little sympathy for any of the characters and how they are being "portrayed" on the show. They knew what they were signing up for. Like momof3, I agree that in any workplace, you will find all sorts people, some more prone to drama or bad behavior than others. The studio is no different; it's just another workplace. So if the show were taking place in a bank or Dr's office, you would find similar behaviors involving different scenarios.

 

And so, based on what I am "watching", I do not care for Allison. Her use of the work "like" in every other sentence is about the drive me insane, and I assume that is how she speaks in "real" life. I agree with all who have commented about her behavior in the costume shop! Absolutely unprofessional, not to mention disrespectful to the other company ladies and costume staff. LIke the AD, I've had about enough of her.

 

Beckanne seems a little immature and ditsy, but I find her much more likable Allison. As for her comment about Paquita being "easy", she grew up on the YAGP circuit, and the Paquita variations are commonly performed. So perhaps, she was just more familiar with the choreography after having seen or probably learning them at some point in time, therefore they were "easy" to her?

 

Ronnie is quite full of himself. I hope he checks that ego soon. It's not an attractive feature in a man. The brothers, on the other hand, seem like nice young men.

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