Big Ballet follows a troupe of plus-size amateur dancers as they attempt to realise their dream of dancing Swan Lake. Rebellious dance legend Wayne Sleep was the shortest dancer ever to ... See full summary »
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2014  

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Series cast summary:
Wayne Sleep ...
 Himself - Mentor 3 episodes, 2014
Monica Loughman ...
 Herself - Mentor 3 episodes, 2014
Tanya Wade ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Hannah Baines ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Emma Roby ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
AJ Bartlett ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Mary Bates ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Jess Bell ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Donna Hargreaves ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Carol Hartley ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Christine Longster ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Claire O'Conner ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Raj Parmar ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Rachel Pearson ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Sarah Peart ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Shona Stringer ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Nicola Thorpe ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Stella White ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
Emma Wilsom ...
 Dancer / ... 3 episodes, 2014
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Big Ballet follows a troupe of plus-size amateur dancers as they attempt to realise their dream of dancing Swan Lake. Rebellious dance legend Wayne Sleep was the shortest dancer ever to make his debut on the Royal Ballet stage and now he wants to unlock the world of ballet for a wider audience and break one of the biggest taboos in ballet: size. Under the watchful eye of Wayne and prima ballerina Monica Loughman, the dancers attempt to do what some experts say is impossible. Written by Channel 4

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6 February 2014 (UK)  »

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Featured in The Wright Stuff: Episode #19.25 (2014) See more »

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A cut above the usual disrespectful "reality" TV
23 June 2015 | by See all my reviews

I love British television: I just came across a wonderfully positive show called "Big Ballet" in which a famously diminutive Ballet Dancer (he's only 5'2") who received NO support throughout his own career strictly due to his size selects plus-sized dancers for his troupe. The artistic director (a very slender career ballerina) related her own stories of discouragement based on size--being told she was too voluptuous and stresses the pressure towards extreme thinness prevalent in the ballet (dancer's) world. There are no secrets or real surprises here. The process of auditioning, training and rehearsal is grinding, and the dancers are surprisingly nimble and adept regardless of size OR AGE as they progress (some brave souls lack any dance experience). A truly entertaining program! Best of all, the show is respectful of the dancers and does not treat their efforts as a joke. It was sweet and amusing to watch the hopefuls practicing their pirouettes as they do their jobs and shop at the grocery store or wait for the subway.

Turns out the entire show is only 3 episodes so I managed to watch the entire thing in one go. Overall I was rather pleased; I am not generally a fan of "reality" TV, but this one was a cut above and while exploitive, managed to do so without mean-spirited derision. I suspect that was due to the intervention of the instigator of this whole idea, the talented and diminutive ballet star, Mr. Sleep who had suffered his own share of cruelty as he climbed the ladder of success. Unlike many shows of this nature, the TV audience does get to see a decent portion of the actual final production (which it turns out is only 25 minutes long) in the final episode. The reaction of the live audience was enthusiastic, but the professionals were rather tepid in their praise.

I do expect that this stunt will do little to change the body standards of ballet, but perhaps they will be less rigid and be more willing to accept the bit more voluptuous dancer, or one perhaps "too short", or "too tall". Better yet, let this be a lesson to all of those dance teachers in the world who push out and discourage the tubby little girls or ones who don't fit a difficult and arbitrary ideal. Perhaps this will open their eyes to the damage they're doing given the unhealthy weight limits and rigid physiques currently demanded, and wake up to the fact that after all, they might be wrong. I do wish that the program had made a bigger point out of the fact that these aspiring dancers were ALL amateurs (though the majority had some dancing lessons way back as children) rather than focusing on their size, but that is after all why they called it "Big Ballet".

A truly inspiring show!


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