Enough Whining About "Breaking Pointe"

November 28, 2001

Each week after “Breaking Pointe” airs, we always hear the same complaint: “Too much drama, not enough dancing!”


I get where the reaction comes from—these are amazing dancers, so why can’t we see more of them doing what they’re best at? We’re teased with three-second clips of rehearsal, but then the camera always breaks away to a close-up of someone sitting there talking. Every time, I want to scream out, “No! Show us more!” I hate getting just a taste of these dancers as artists, and not being able to tell what they actually look like on stage.


But “Breaking Pointe” isn’t supposed to be “Great Performances,” and The CW is not PBS. The dancing itself isn’t the focus of this show, and it was never going to be. “Breaking Pointe” is about the lives of these ballet dancers. Yes, there might be an overabundance of party shots and footage devoted to uninteresting relationship squabbles. But the drama about not knowing if you’ll be dancing with the same company next year? Of feeling embarrassed about your body, but forced to stare at it all day in the mirror? Of not knowing why you’re no longer getting the opportunities you used to? Of having to decide whether ballet is worth sacrificing everything else in life for? Those kinds of dramas are huge parts of dancers’ lives, and you can’t see them anywhere besides “Breaking Pointe.” Ballet isn’t easy, and the drama in “Breaking Pointe” shares that with audiences who never thought it was anything more than pink tutus and twirls.


Yes, it’s frustrating to not have seen enough of Zach and Ian dancing to decide for ourselves whether we agree with Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute’s decision in last night’s episode to hire Zach. But it’s so illuminating to watch how beautifully Ian handles the news that he won’t be invited into the main company—and how he breaks that news to his girlfriend. He’ll be forced to go to a new company in a new city, spend his paychecks on auditions and have his entire life disrupted in order to follow through on his dream to become a professional dancer, but he’s willing to take those risks. The behind-the-scenes look at that kind of passion isn’t something you can find on YouTube.