Bunheads Recap: Growing Up in Ballet

This week’s episode of "Bunheads" opens with the dancers rehearsing in the studio, all in black leotards and tight buns. Watched with the volume turned down, the dancers appear to gracefully and seamlessly dance in unison. Turn the volume on and this vision of mature young ballerinas dissolves as Melanie and Ginny partake in a catty repartee about Melanie’s friendship with Cozette, which Ginny experiences as a best-friend betrayal. The contrast between the childishness of their dialogue and the maturity of the dance is mirrored by the dramatic contrast in height between Melanie and Ginny as they dance together. This jarring juxtaposition sets the tone for an episode that is all about children, adults and growing up.

The show moves from one pas de deux or trois to another. Fanny manipulates Millie to pay for the theater space and performance, each woman jousting for power. Sasha sets up her own apartment, buying furniture, setting up utilities and hosting a housewarming party, but ultimately ends up sleeping on the couch in Michelle’s apartment. Michelle herself encounters her estranged mother. In a parallel to the parentless Sasha, it’s not clear whether Michelle’s mother is child or parent.

 

What is clear is that for Michelle, Sasha, Fanny, Ginny and Melanie, ballet provides a framework for growing up. All the chaos of the personal stories fades away as we see the dancers practice a perfect pas de deux, in this unrealistically ideal dance studio, each paired with a male partner.