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Trashing Ballet (West) July 7, 2012

Filed under: ballerina,ballet — theworstat @ 2:45 pm
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People who know me know that ballet is just one of my passions.  Another is storm chasing.  People who know me know that reality TV is one of my aversions.  And now, people who like ballet and storm chasing know why reality TV is one of my aversions.

For those reading in countries other than the U.S., here’s the deal: in recent years, the Discovery Channel ran a series called Storm Chasers, which was about the trials and tribulations of three teams of chasers in the U.S.  It started out okay, but gradually disintegrated into being about interpersonal squabbles, flashy storm-chasing gear, and finally someone’s girlfriend.  Actually they tried to put two pretty girls into the show; one lasted a few episodes and the other barely 5 minutes.  Actual storm-chasing women — and there are some — were not acknowledged.  I’m guessing this is because few of them are Hollywood-pretty enough.

Yes, they tried to sugar-coat it all as “science” and “saving lives,” but the trash kept rising to the surface.  Finally the show got canceled late last year.

But the damage was done.  Real-life chasers are now dealing with unprecedented “chaser convergence” at every storm; the roads are filled with naive newbies looking for fame and getting in the way instead.  And threats to the lives of chasers who were not on Storm Chasers have been a real and frightening addition to the hazards chasers already face on the road.  How did that happen?  Well, you see, the TV-drugged newbies are convinced that any chaser who was not featured on the show must be in the way of any chaser who was, and the death penalty seems like an apt punishment to some of these idiots.

And now there is a ballet reality show, Breaking Pointe.  Thankfully this cannot lead to a legion of fake dancers seeking fame and soap opera, but it doesn’t do ballet much good anyway.

What’s it about?  Allegedly it’s Ballet West, a Utah-based company that has been around for decades and has a strong reputation.  It is not one of the great companies of the world, but considering its size (the company is tiny; only about 35 dancers), and some of the teachers it manages to attract, it’s an excellent regional company — sort of a pint-sized version of the San Francisco Ballet.

But now CW TV is trashing it by concentrating not on the dancing, but on every bland soap-opera thread they can manage to inject.  The end result is that the show is more about boyfriends and girlfriends breaking up and then kissing and making up than with anything interesting, or anything that has the slightest thing to do with ballet.  Yes, professional problems are somewhat addressed, but not with any understanding of the subject.  They are all washed over with the same damp cloth.  It’s like, OOOOO, Suzie is upset with the conductor’s tempo!  And 3 seconds later: Okay, let’s move on to Mary Suzie (reader pointed out it’s the same girl) and Michael’s romance!  And that part drags on for 15 minutes or more before it (of course) ends with tears.

One gets the impression that the producers of this show neither know nor care much about ballet, which was precisely the same problem with Storm Chasers, where the producers would probably have looked for tornadoes in Antarctica** if no one had told them that tornadoes are far more likely in Oklahoma.  But then they got the idea that there is a strictly-defined “storm chasing season” which makes or breaks a storm chaser’s entire year….oh well.  Let’s just summarize by saying that the show was a stupid mess, as is Breaking Pointe.

If you want to see a good show about the lives of dancers, get hold of a copy of the documentary Ballerina and watch that.  It’s gritty, and it focuses on the dancing.  This is what I was expecting from Breaking Pointe, but did not get.

In short, don’t bother with Breaking Pointe.  Just keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t ultimately destroy Ballet West.

** click on this link:  TORNADOES  for more information on how many tornadoes there are in Antarctica


3 Responses to “Trashing Ballet (West)”

  1. Anna Says:

    Actually, more like “Suzie is upset with the conductor’s tempo! And 3 seconds later: Okay, let’s move on to SUZIE and Michael’s romance!”, since the same girl who was having tempo issues was the one with romantic issues. Sometime a couple of episodes in they just decided to make the entire series about her and her boring non-relationship.

    I am not sure a 6-episode show on the CW of all channels even had the potential to be anything close to the quality of Ballerina, but in some ways it was even more disappointing than it could have been. So many opportunities lost to show more actual, you know, dancing – and less performance montages that were often way too fast and I guess were only there to add to the “drama” factor. The tragedy of one of the girls’ contracts not getting renewed was thrust at us in the first and last episodes, but almost solely in light of her impending separation from her boyfriend – we never even got to see her dance in between.

    As a palate cleanser (thought completely off topic), may I offer some recently posted clips of Evgenia Obraztsova? I know she is one of your favorites, I posted her Kitri here at one point.

    Legend of Love Shirin Variation

    Legend of Love Pas de Deux

    Satanella (Carnaval de Venise with Sergeyev)

    La fille mal gardee/Harlequinade Variation lesson/rehearsal

    • theworstat Says:

      LOL I didn’t notice it was the same girl…that’s how bad I am. It’s a shame they turned it into a soap opera.

      • theworstat Says:

        You’re absolutely right, however, that this show never had the potential to be on a par with “Ballerina.”

        And thanks for the Evgenia clips! I can never get enough of Evgenia’s dancing.

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