As a former professional ballet dancer, I admit that it is exciting to see a ballet reality TV show such as the CW’s Breaking Pointe getting so much attention. I support the show and the dancers who are opening up their lives on camera to give the public some insight into a dancers life. The tough part is seeing dancers whom I trained with or worked with in the past getting so much criticism from the dance community – particularly from ballet moms. Here’s a quick reality check.
If everything was just sugarplums and tutus, there wouldn’t be a show. As perfect and innocent as ballet may seem, you have to realize that dancers are human and are in fact very much like you – They don’t get along with all of their co-workers, they have bad days, they have self-esteem issues, they deal with work stress, they have to compete for job promotions. Yes, occasionally they even meet up at the bar after a long day of work. Isn’t this what most of the general public has been doing their whole adult lives? These dancers are men and women working to make ends meet just like you – they don’t live in a music box.
The other thing that the public doesn’t realize is that these dancers are Adults. The public tends to associate the word “ballerina” with a little girl when in fact these ballerinas are professional adults. The truth is that while you were off at college joining fraternities and sororities, dancers were already working. Most dancers are hired into professional companies at age 17, forcing them to grow up at a much younger age than you. Now that’s reality.
Why don’t they show more dancing? Because dancers lives encompass more than just dancing. Breaking Pointe is trying to make the public realize that dancers are human beings dealing with many of the same social issues as you – look at the African American dancer in the company, the openly gay couple, the dancer dealing with the stress of starting a family and marriage, the dancer who’s husband doesn’t have time for her. These are very big issues that people are dealing with all over the world every day. Why do you demand that a dancer’s life be any different?
The show depicts a wonderful contrast between the dancer’s personal lives and their studio lives. Have we created a false sense of reality for our teens when we don’t allow them to watch Breaking Pointe because it addresses too many real issues? If you want to see dancing and be swept away from reality buy tickets to see the ballet! In the meantime, watch Breaking Pointe for what it is – a real look into a hard working professional’s life and the hardships and glory that comes with it. Let’s applaud these dancers with a standing ovation for opening up their lives to us!