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By Wendy Perron
With the advent of reality TV, YouTube, and social media, concert dance and screen dance are mixing and merging in intriguing ways. In the case of Breaking Pointe, the CW show that takes viewers behind the scenes at Ballet West, it seems to be an intimate look at dancers’ lives—both in work and in love. Yet we wonder, how real is this reality show? For our Media Issue, we sent reporter Kathy Adams to the set in Salt Lake City last winter when BW was knee-deep in rehearsals for Ashton’s Cinderella. The cover story, “Will Allison and Rex Get Together?—And Other Burning Issues” is based on frank interviews with the dancers and artistic director of Ballet West—and even the producer of Breaking Pointe.
The dance world’s reaction to the recent rash of dance reality TV shows runs the gamut. We decided to ask our contributing editor Siobhan Burke for her personal take on these programs. In “Who Needs the Drama?” she waxes gently sarcastic about the “gotta win” mindset of the competition shows. But she arrives at a surprising conclusion—one that all dancers can relate to.
At right: Is anything private in reality TV? Allison DeBona and Rex Tilton of Breaking Pointe. Photo by Matthew Karas.
Not only are more dancers performing for screens large and small—and tiny—but more tech-savvy people are transforming three-dimensional dance to two dimensions. With this issue we introduce a new section called “Media Maven.” It will profile various people who use their artistic skills to bridge live dance and media dance. (Find it in “Plugged In,” on page 54.) First up is Lindsay Thomas, Pacific Northwest Ballet’s videographer. She not only documents ballets by choreographers like Christopher Wheeldon and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, but she creates videos that are themselves works of art.
On another note, body image is a constant struggle for dancers. In our desire for perfection, we tend to denigrate ourselves for our flaws, no matter how slight. In “Making Peace With My Body,” associate editor Khara Hanlon talks to six dancers who lament their limitations: One is too curvy, another wants cashew feet, and a third is too tall. But they have all found places in excellent dance companies that continually give them artistic challenges. So go ahead and wallow in self-criticism—but then get past it and dance your heart out.