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It won't exactly be "Real Ballet Dancers of Salt Lake City," but Ballet West is about to become the focus of a TV reality show.
"Breaking Pointe," a six-episode documentary series, will air sometime this summer on The CW. The network describes it this way: "Beneath the beauty and glamour of the dance and costumes is a gritty dog-eat-dog world of extreme athleticism, focus, dedication, passion, pressure and, of course, the hunt for the unattainable ... perfection."
It's not a competition show, it's a documentary. The producers, from BBC International, pitched the show to the Utah dance company as "the antidote to the movie 'Black Swan,' " said Adam Sklute, artistic director at Ballet West.
"They want to set the record straight," he said. "There is enough real-life drama in the ballet world that we don't need to create all of that extreme, exaggerated stereotypes that we got out of the movie."
The producers were in town in February to film the pilot episode, and CW programmers were impressed with the result.
"We see a couple hundred pitches on reality shows, and this one definitely stood out," said Paul Hewitt, CW's senior vice president of network communications. A show about ballet "definitely fits in with our brand," he said, because the network targets women 18-34. "Doesn't every girl want to be a ballerina?"
The pilot was produced during the second week of Ballet West's performances of "Don Quixote." Cameras filmed rehearsals and meetings, following and interviewing dancers both in and out of the studio.
"We brought [the idea for the series] to the dancers and we decided we would all see it through," Sklute said. "They voted on going forward with it."
And Ballet West is putting a lot of faith in the show's producers. "BBC International is terrific," Sklute said. "In fact, they jokingly said to us, 'Look, we are a government-run thing. You're not going to get "The Jersey Shore" or something like that.' "
That's the question with any reality show.
"It's always a mixed thing," said Ellen Bromberg, associate professor, department of modern dance at the University of Utah, and director of the Dance for the Camera Festival. "On the one hand, you benefit from visibility. Certainly, being broadcast nationally is a great way to let people know what's going on in dance in Utah. It just depends on what the narrative is. It really depends on what their agenda is."
Production resumes on March 19, when Ballet West will be preparing for George Balanchine's "Emeralds," which debuts on April 13.
"If done right and I'm confident it will be done right this could be wonderful," Sklute said. "Dramatic, of course. But what matters to me most is that the real world of ballet is depicted, with all of its wonderful things and all of its challenges."
Ballet West to perform at the Kennedy Center
Ballet West will take Willam Christensen's iconic version of "The Nutcracker" to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in December. The Salt Lake City dance company will perform Dec. 5-9 in Washington, D.C. "Our founder, Willam Christensen, created the first full-length Nutcracker in America," said artistic director Adam Sklute. "It has been delighting audiences out West for nearly 60 years, and now it feels so right to finally bring this truly American classic to our nation's capit[a]l."