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Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute doesn't exactly strike you as a riverboat gambler, but with "Breaking Pointe" he rolled the dice on national TV.
And after the reality show's debut last week, he's feeling relieved.
"We wanted to show the people who work so hard for their art, and it did," he said of the documentary series that's airing on The CW/Channel 30. "I'm pretty happy right now."
Basing a reality TV show at a ballet company isn't exactly the sort of thing you expect from an arts organization whose patrons are, in large part, rather staid. Traditional. Even stuffy.
But Sklute is determined to raise Ballet West's national profile. And he and his dancers opened up to the BBC Worldwide Productions cameras without being altogether sure how they'd be portrayed.
Ratings showed about 1.06 million people tuned in on Thursday. Not good, but better than some CW shows. Ballet West would have to perform at least 815 times in the Capitol Theatre to match that.
Locally, "Breaking Pointe" claimed a 1.4 household rating, better than KUCW did in that time period last week (0.8) or the week before (0.5). Better than "Office" repeats on Channel 5.
(That doesn't count a repeat on Friday. Episode 1 repeats again Monday at 7 p.m; Episode 2 airs Thursday at 7 p.m.)
On Twitter, comments ranged from "my respect & admiration for ballet dancers has grown exponentially" to "nobody cares."
Critical reaction was also mixed. Kelsea Stahler of Hollywood.com wrote "the drama just doesn't have that outlandish brand of Winona-Ryder-stark-raving-mad-with-mascara-running-down-her-face rampaging that we'd hope for."
Sklute isn't exactly unhappy about that. "I think we have a lot of young women who could be role models," he said.
"Breaking Pointe" did, however, produce the requisite villainess. Allison DeBona was rather unkind to fellow dancer Rex Tilton, who loves her. And her comments about another dancer's fat feet just made DeBona look bad.
"We have a lot of personalities and a lot of relationships going on," said Sklute, diplomatically.
Will Harris of TV Club damned the show with faint praise ("classier than 'Dance Moms' ") and complained "the debut episode offers precious little in the way of actual dancing."
The premiere did spend most of its hour introducing people and storylines. "There will be more dancing in future episodes," Sklute promised.
Other critics were more charitable.
"What separates this cast from just about every other reality show is that these people are chasing something larger than themselves, more vital to them than fame or money that brief moment of perfection onstage, achieved after years of study and practice," wrote Mark A. Perigard in the Boston Herald. "For that alone, 'Breaking Pointe' deserves a spin."
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at email@example.com.
Backstage at Ballet West: 'Breaking Pointe'
The first episode of "Breaking Pointe" will repeat Monday, June 4 at 7 p.m., while episode 2 will air at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 7.