Dance without drama

It should have been dance meets drama Thursday night as “Breaking Pointe” premiered on the CW network. The six-week docudrama follows the personal and professional lives of select dancers with Ballet West in Utah, headed by artistic director Adam Sklute.

It’s been billed as a compelling behind-the-scenes look at life in ballet world, but strikes me so far as a run-of-the-mill whine-fest. Whether taking company class, joining friends for coffee or hitting the local bar, these dancers have issues.

Not the sort that make for fascinating fare, but the type you’d expect during an ordinary teenage slumber party. Frankly, these dancers feel a bit boring — more consumed by puppy love than passion for their art.

Early on, a dancer describes their habitat as a mix of rivalry and relationships. It’s a dead-on description of the show’s content — something sure to disappoint those searching for pure unadulterated dance.

Episode one centers on the contract renewal process. Dancers audition for Sklute, then wait for word of what position they’ve been offered for the coming year. After slots in a set of small cubbies are filled with white legal size envelopes sealed with dancers’ fates, dancers gather to discover the news.

Two friends find letters asking them to meet with Sklute, but only one gets the promotion she seeks. The other learns she’ll be unemployed once the season ends, then frets while packing for an audition in Ohio. Seems she’s miffed about having to pay her own job hunting costs.

It’s one of many signs that some of these dancers just don’t get out much. Life in ballet world can be tough. But life’s no never-ending series of grand entrances for the rest of us either. Put on your big girl’s tutu, and move on already.

Two of the dancers featured on “Breaking Pointe” are brothers. But their relationship has a weird vibe, as if someone forgot to cut the cord. Apparently part of ballet world is deciphering whether career trumps family (or love interest). It’s hardly an original plot point.

Beware of leaving your first love for another until you’re certain a reversal of roles would yield the same outcome. It’s easy for viewers twice the age of these dancers to suggest such things. But I suspect we’ll have to endure at least a few of them learning the hard way.

Assuming we’re able to watch at all. Following a show for six weeks requires some sort of connection to its characters. But so far there’s little to love, and even less to hate about these dancers. Let’s hope greater depth and complexity in coming weeks makes one or the other possible.

– Lynn

Note: You can enjoy Ballet Arizona performing three Balanchine works, including one Arizona premiere, through Sunday at Symphony Hall in Phoenix. Click here for details.

Coming up: S.W.A.T. Lake

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