Breaking Pointe Episode Four: Tempo Very Slow

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It’s hard to write about this week’s episode of the CW’s Breaking Pointe, featuring the Salt Lake City regional ballet company Ballet West, because nothing really happened. It felt like a filler episode with no storyline progression and no new insight. For a series with only six episodes, this was extremely disappointing.

We spent more time with Allison DeBona, Rex Tilton, and their toxic relationship. They had an emotional break-up scene, filled with tears, which didn’t actually seem to end their relationship. I’m not sure what is going on with them, but I’m sure we’ll get more details in the coming weeks. A big part of me feels this is all a big put-on for the camera and I am not buying into their relationship. To be fair, I also don’t care about their relationship. I want to know more about their lives pertaining to their career choice.

A lot has been left out; for instance we haven’t been updated on Katie Martin’s audition process. I would also like to know a little more about how she is continuing to dance with a company where she no longer feels welcomed. A coherent storyline hasn’t been developed with Ronnie Underwood either. We only hear about his tattoos, physique, and, overall, how manly he is. Supposedly, he is a womanizer. But I haven’t seen him really interact with any women. Unfortunately, Christiana Bennet seems to exist solely as a channel for Allison’s many complaints. She does things with Allison, yet we never learn anything about her beyond surface level information. All we hear about are her aspirations to be perfect.

Though, I did love the storeyline that focused on the tension between the conductor and the dancers. I thought it was done well. Yet, I was a little disappointed in Artistic Director Adam Sklute; I wanted him to defend the dancers more then he did. I know he has to keep up a relationship with the conductor, but I think his priority should be his dancers. Granted, Allison is a drama queen to the nth degree, which must be difficult and frustrating to deal with–especially in the theater, with a limited amount of time to make everything work.

The first three episodes of the series led me to believe we would have a ten-minute or so sequence on the rehearsal of Balanchine’s “Emeralds”. The premiere episode introduced the characters and set-up storylines, episode two included a sequence on Petit Mort and how sexy it is, and episode three focused on Paquita.  Suffice to say, I was expecting to see “Emeralds” and was wondering if any big time Balanchine ballerina would be there to stage it. During the premiere episode, when we learned that “Emeralds” would be performed, I was a little shocked that the Balanchine Trust was allowing it to be filmed. They are highly protective of the choreographer’s work and a reality show on the CW does not seem up to par with their standards. In my opinion, this is not because they want to make as much money as possible off the choreography, but instead they are interested in preserving George Balanchine’s legacy and the validity of his work. Working with the North Carolina Dance Theatre, I was able to witness Patricia McBride coach one of the dancers featured in my documentary with Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. It was amazing to see how she worked and listen to her talk about Mr. B. Preserving his original intent was important, as was considering how he approached the steps; George Balanchine defined American ballet. Getting to see a glimpse of what it would have been like to be in his studio was amazing, making me excited to see this rehearsal.

My guess as to why there was nothing about “Emeralds” is that either whoever staged the piece would not allow the cameras in to the rehearsals (this happened to me; we had permission from a choreographer to film a rehearsal, but the person staging it would not let me in) or the Balanchine Trust did not want the piece shown. This will become apparent in the next two episodes where we may or may not see snippets of “Emeralds.” The reason we are able to see some tiny bits and pieces of the work is probably due to a section of copyright law called fair use. Since Ballet West is performing “Emeralds” this season–I’m assuming the producers did not ask them to include the work on their schedule–then the producers would be altering reality to exclude “Emeralds” from the show. If the Balanchine Trust makes it clear they don’t approve of Emeralds being shown then the producers become involved in a crazy tap dance to try and decide how much they can show before they are overstepping the fair use boundary. It’s very complicated and it’s the worst part about being filmmaker because it’s impossible to get away from copyrighted material.

I have to admit I was also very happy to think that “Emeralds” would be featured in Breaking Pointe because I thought it might mean the Balanchine Trust was more open to works being shown on television; thus, it would be easier to make my case for including Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux in my documentary. I am still crossing my fingers that we will see more of it in the next two weeks.

I digress. The last section of this weeks episode felt like a preview for next week. I have nothing good or bad to really say about this episode other than it was completely forgettable. Considering it’s the episode where Ronnie pole danced, that’s saying a lot.

Tune in this Thursday, as the dancers prepare for opening night. Stephanie will be back, following the episode on Twitter and posting her thoughts in a recap.

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