We have all seen the traditional stories about dancers and their struggles (Center Stage, The Turning Point, etc.) in movies. Here is the chance to go behind the scenes with real dancers and discover the truth. As it turns out (no pun intended), their daily lives are filled with the same issues we all face, but everything in their lives is dance-centric, as it must be.
Dance is a profession that melds athleticism and art. It is more demanding than most jobs because it requires discipline, self-examination, and an all-encompassing dedication.
Breaking Pointe, in its second season, has focused on about seven dancers. And always in the background is the drama of creating a performance for a paying public. The company must stage the demanding Cinderella ballet on schedule. At the same time, the dancers deal with issues like working with your spouse, having to decide between career or relationship, injuries that are debilitating, and injuries that must be borne.
And let's not forget the fact that annual reviews are hanging over everyone's heads. Dancers work under annual contracts, so every year they deal with the stress of not knowing what the next season will bring--renewal or termination. And because dance companies are very hierarchical, the dancers seek affirmation every year. "Will I get promoted to soloist? How long must I remain an intern? Can age and injuries threaten my position as a principal dancer?"
As with other professional athletes, there are only so many employers. This further complicates the lifestyle of a dancer, who may have to pack up and move to another state if he cannot continue at his present jobs.
Knowing all this, it is with great respect that I watch these dancers negotiate their problems. Some comments on this site are very critical of some of these dancers, sometimes even criticizing their physical characteristics. In my opinion, they are all beautiful. They have nearly perfected their beautiful instruments in pursuit of a beautiful illusion--that their performances are effortless.
For any reality show, reality is abridged whenever an edit is made. But I feel that the producers of this show are attempting to show us the drama of these lives in a balanced way.
How can one not feel for Chris and Christiana, principals dancers, whose marriage may be damaged by the dynamics that define it? Or Allison, whose fiancé may demand she leave the company to prove her love? Or Ronnie, the soloist whose foot injury has sidelined his career until he can rehab enough to perform the most demanding jumps?
All of this drama is offset by the moments of beauty: The exquisite precision of a spin, the ornate costumes, the classic lines of the dancer's body at work or in repose.
Breaking Pointe also shows the dancers at play, diffusing the daily stresses.
In all, we get a comprehensive look at the world of a dancer. Any young dancer who contemplates the lifestyle of ballet should watch this show.