by Kimberly Peterson
In the new series “Breaking Pointe”, a documentary style show highlighting the world of professional ballet inside Ballet West from the CW network, there are several brilliant things which happen here: 1) – a no holds barred look at life as a professional dancer, the ups and downs of this on their professional and personal lives, their own development as artists and people; 2) – it brings into sharp relief the nature of the competitive atmosphere of professional ballet and the ramifications of this atmosphere on the work ballet produces.
In the first episode, we are introduced to several of the dancers in differing points in their careers, who are getting ready for their annual contract renewals, or conversely, their pink slips. The Artistic Director, Adam Sklute, in speaking about how he must make difficult decisions for the good of the company, states: “The best recipe for creating a hardworking and well-functioning dancer and artist is if all the dancers know that they are special, but also that they are expendable.” This statement resonated with me and instinctually. I found myself bumping up against it as I watch these people struggle for an unattainable perfection, while knowing and accepting that they will never truly find it, never really have security or rest. There is only the constant pursuit of perfection.
While this may be the way in which ballet chooses to conduct itself, the manner in which they operate their business, I seriously doubt the efficacy of this kind of an environment not only on the people who work there, but also the work that is eventually produced. [Read more…]