“Off Kilter” Is the Ballet Comedy We’ve Been Waiting For

More often than not, we're disappointed when ballet is depicted in pop culture. Sometimes, the dance world is made out to be incredibly dark and depressing. Or, worse, non-dancers are hired to play dancers. (Gasp!)

But a new series is giving us hope that it is possible to make ballet content that is both entertaining and true to what the dance world is actually like. "Off Kilter," created by former Compania Nacional de Danza and Ballet Frankfurt dancer Alejandro Alvarez Cadilla and comedian Amy Cunningham, follows fictional choreographer Milton Frank as he creates his first work in over two decades.


The show's dry humor is enough to have us hooked (imagine if "Parks and Recreation" was set in a dance company), but "Off Kilter" also cleverly tackles important issues in the ballet world like sexism, ageism and ego.

National Ballet of Canada principal Harrison James and former Royal Winnipeg Ballet soloist Sarah Murphy-Dyson play the dancer roles, so obviously their technique is gorgeous. And they aren't bad actors, either.

Our other favorite thing about "Off Kilter": It contains delightful dance insider references, but is still relatable to non-dancers (we think?!). From the ridiculous nonsense sounds Milton uses when he's choreographing to his refusal to call his return to choreography a "comeback," we can all recognize these sometimes-quirky, sometimes-irritating behaviors in people we've worked with. But as the show's teaser points out, "You don't have to be a ballerina to know a Milton Frank."

The show is in early stages of development, but we can't wait to see more.

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020