So You Think You Can Dance, step aside! Starting tonight, the new CW reality series Breaking Pointe will show dance fans the true torment behind the tutus at the Salt Lake City Company Ballet West. There’s fierce competition (but no panel of judges) as the documentary-style show depicts seven ballet dancers grappling with drama in their professional and personal lives.
Will it be TV’s answer to Black Swan? Read on as the company’s Artistic Director, Adam Sklute, tells Wetpaint Entertainment about this no holds barre-d answer to reality dance shows.
Wetpaint Entertainment: What can we expect from Breaking Pointe?
Adam Sklute: You're going to see an in-depth look of the life of a dancer. In fact, all of the dancers in the company, about seven of them, their whole lives are going to be followed from their personal lives to their lives at work – the ups, the downs, the physical and emotional hardships, the challenges, the competition, all of the striving for perfection that they do.
Why did you decide to let the cameras in?
It was ultimately my call, but I also asked the dancers to vote on it, without me or any of my staff in the room. I turned to them, and I said, “I think that this could be a wonderful opportunity for Ballet West, but more so, a wonderful opportunity for ballet in general to really make people understand what it really is to be a professional dancer and to be in a professional ballet company. But I want you to feel comfortable with it. So you vote on it,” and I left the room. They voted in favor of it, obviously!
What was the hardest part about letting cameras capture what went on?
Well, rehearsing is a very private process. Dancers put their lives and their emotions and their souls and their bodies on the line every day, and it's so naked and exposed in so many ways. One might be hesitant about letting cameras into the process. But I think everyone agreed that it is such a fascinating and unique life that people don't know about. We thought that was a very positive thing.
Do you think people will be surprised at how athletic it really is to be a ballet dancer?
Yeah, I think so. I mean people know in theory, but I don't think people really get it, that we train more than Olympic athletes.
Will we see what kind of toll ballet dancing takes on a body?
You're going to see the physical hardships. You're going to see how hard it is on the body. You're going to see how emotionally draining it is. It's intense. You've got to love what you do.
Reality shows always want to show behind the scenes drama, like cat fights. Were the dancers worried about that?
We are one big family, and we all have great confidence in ourselves and also in the producers of the show. So we're not really worried about that because ultimately, it's all about what's real and what's life. But it’s interesting because I tell my dancers when you go on stage, you’ve got to be vulnerable. You have to be able to open yourself up and expose yourself.
What do you think shows like So You Think You Can Dance do for the craft?
I think any show that brings popularity to our art form is positive for what we do. We’ve always had a broad cross current of artists, but I do think that there is an increase, nationally and internationally, in dance again. Everything goes in waves, as I see it. And I think there was something called the Dance Boom in the ‘60s and the ‘70s and even into the early ‘80s, and then it sort of died down for a little while. And I feel like things are on an upswing again in terms of interest and passion about dance.
Do you think the ballet performances on So You Think You Can Dance lack authenticity?
No, I don’t. I feel like if it draws people in, more people will come and see it. And those people who are going to be drawn in by the art form and the entire, complete art form will be anyway. They just might not have been exposed to it or even thought about coming [to the ballet] had they not seen a performance like on one of those shows.
Breaking Pointe premieres May 31 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.