Dance shows have waltzed, twirled and pirouetted onto TV with increasing popularity in recent years. Dancing With the Stars has been a big ratings-getter for ABC. And So You Think You Can Dance has done well for Fox. Now, two new shows this summer offer different glimpses into the world of ballet.
The CW’s Breaking Pointe is a reality show focusing on the Ballet West dance company in Salt Lake City. Cameras go behind-the-scenes to give a grueling, fascinating glimpse at the elite dancers and their amazing (bony, lithe, sleek) bodies. The company is preparing for opening night and everyone is feeling the pressure. We see the dancers struggle with all the physical and emotional challenges that come with being part of a group working to be the best. “I always want to be perfect,” says Christiana, one of the prima ballerinas. When some of the dancers take a night off to go to a club, the artistic director, to his credit, says that’s a good thing. Everyone needs balance and “healthy living” outside the theater, he says, although the pressure-cooker of the ballet always hangs overhead. The most interesting parts of the show are those that take place on the ballet stage – from the costume fittings to the rehearsals. But, as with all reality shows, relationship drama and infighting gets a share of the spotlight, too. The show airs Thursdays at 8 on CW, but you can watch free episodes online at CWTV.com.
For a much more light-hearted look at budding ballerinas, there’s ABC Family channel’s new show, Bunheads. It’s a comedy-drama starring Sutton Foster, a longtime Broadway actress, who is a prima ballerina-turned-Vegas-showgirl-turned-widow-in-a-small-town. She finds herself helping her mother-in-law run a dance studio. Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the force behind Gilmore Girls, the show features quippy dialogue and well-drawn female characters with heart. Secondary characters include four young girls who want to be ballerinas. Issues surrounding body image, competition, friendship and healthy living come up often with them. New episodes air on Mondays at 9 p.m., but you can watch episodes at iTunes.com or ABCFamily.go.com.
Both shows are targeted to young dancers in the family, but they also offer a chance to assess how much pressure is being put on your kids. It’s not a new issue, but it’s an ever-important one. Are you taking time off this summer to make sure everyone takes some time to just play and laugh?