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Breaking Pointe: Ballet West Gets the Reality Treatment


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#1

ThatGrrl

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Posted May 7, 2012 @ 10:06 AM

(from The CW's press release, April 2012)

BREAKING POINTE goes behind the stage curtain for an intense, unfiltered look at one of the most competitive ballet companies in the country, Ballet West, in Salt Lake City, Utah. 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. BREAKING POINTE is produced by BBC Worldwide Productions. Kate Shepherd ("Big Brother," "Wife Swap") is executive producer. Izzie Pick Ashcroft ("Dancing with the Stars") and Jane Tranter ("Top Gear," "Dancing with the Stars," "Torchwood") are executive producers for BBC Worldwide Productions.


Premieres: on the CW at 8 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 31, 2012
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#2

ElectricBoogalo

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Posted May 7, 2012 @ 1:08 PM

I'm ridiculously excited about this show. Here's hoping that they realize that the backstage world of dance is fascinating enough that they don't need to resort to the typical manufactured reality tv drama.
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#3

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Posted May 7, 2012 @ 1:27 PM

I'm excited also. I watched The Secret Lives of Dancers out of NZ and it was great. Just the drama of casting and injuries and relationships is really interesting.
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#4

ThatGrrl

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Posted May 7, 2012 @ 1:35 PM

I was in a company about a million years ago, so I'm very interested in seeing how things have changed since then. I'm betting the drama is pretty much the same, although almost everything else is different. Certainly, we didn't have very many doctors specializing in sports medicine back then. That change alone should make a huge difference.
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#5

ThatGrrl

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 5:07 PM

Premiere episode tonight, 8 to 9 PM Eastern on the CW. Episode description from network site below.

Episode 1: Survival of the Fittest
GO BEHIND THE SCENES OF AN ELITE BALLET COMPANY, BALLET WEST — For the first time ever, the beauty and grace of ballet, the world’s preeminent dance form, will be brought to television. Viewers will also see the dark side of this seemingly perfect world; the jealousy, competition and intensity that exist behind the scenes at a professional ballet company. Led by Ballet West’s Artistic Director Adam Sklute, Ballet West and Ballet West II’s company of 48 dancers includes Principal Artist Christiana Bennett, Principal Artist Christopher Ruud, Soloist Tom Mattingly, Soloist Ronnie Underwood, Demi-Soloist Allison DeBona, Demi-Soloist Rex Tilton, Adrian Fry, Beckanne Sisk, Kathleen Martin and Ronald Tilton.


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#6

Streya

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 6:37 PM

DVR is set, can't wait!!
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#7

ThatGrrl

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 8:07 PM

Egads. Okay, words cannot express how much I loathe Allison. Right, right. I'm sure she's getting the bitch edit. I understand that. But the way she treats Rex is giving me flashbacks to guys I've had to practically bring back to the world of the living after dealing with her ilk. At least he's said the magic words, "Maybe I need to spend some time apart from her." Secretly hoping that Beckanne is the new object of his affections, mostly because Allison seems intent on playing "pull you/push you" with Rex, while doing the passive/aggressive thing with Beckanne (who seems like a lovely, talented girl). If Katie isn't threatened, it really shows how insecure Allison is.

Sad that Ronald and Katie are the ones being split up (given that Rex could totally use some time away from Allison). Hope that Katie gets good news in Boise.

Interesting that Ronnie hasn't signed his contract. Wonder what will happen there. And it sounds as if Adam has created a new title of "first soloist" just to avoid promoting Ronnie to principal. Hmmm. I can see why he's pissed.

All in all, I like the show!
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#8

callie lee 29

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 8:07 PM

That was decent, enough to make me tune in again. Will say I can't keep the long-haired brunettes straight.
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#9

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 8:11 PM

I found the dancers to be so dull. Wow. *yawn* Beckanne was moderately interesting but she's so sugar sweet, I doubt a nasty thing will ever cross her mouth. Allison has serious bitch face. I'm surprised her boyfriend has stuck around this long. I could barely tell her and the Prima Ballerina apart. They looked almost identical. I've watched a "making of" of the Winnipeg Ballet company's Nutcracker and *that* was interesting and it involved 12 year olds. I hope there's more competition shown and auditioning. It just seems as though they've already decided who's getting what. They're performing 3 plays, but we don't know which? Weird.
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#10

braggtastic

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 8:42 PM

Too many white brunettes, male and female, to keep straight. And I kept wondering about the camera angles and which scenes were set up.

Also, I thought Salt Lake was a no alcohol place. Was that club/hotel they were in someplace else?
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#11

ThatGrrl

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 8:55 PM

Also, I thought Salt Lake was a no alcohol place. Was that club/hotel they were in someplace else?

They talked about wanting a drink; didn't appear that anyone actually ever got one. I haven't been to Salt Lake City in years, but when I did go there, you were able to get 2-week memberships in private clubs in which they served alcohol. They aren't "private, private." They were basically bars that informed you when you entered that they were private and that a membership was required to stay and drink. Presumably, there were also long-term annual memberships, as well. So, Salt Lake City (at least when I was there) had laws against general public alcohol consumption, but it was available if you joined a private club.
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#12

braggtastic

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 9:16 PM

They showed tons of drinks - beer bottles & champagne flutes in people's hands, and I think they showed them sipping as well. It probably was a private club then, although I'm sure the 19 year old wasn't drinking.
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#13

ThatGrrl

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 9:22 PM

Ugh. You're right, braggtastic. Until you'd mentioned it, I'd completely forgotten seeing the champagne flute in Allison's hands. Missed the bottles, but most definitely remember the flute. My bad. I'd guess that it was a private club or that there was some other arrangement that met with local law that allowed them to serve alcohol. Someone with more recent experience in Salt Lake will hopefully speak up and let us know the current state of the law.
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#14

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 9:24 PM

Caught this by accident and got sucked into it. Biggest issue right out the gate is that it is so hard to tell all the pale, brunettes apart. Not!Girlfriend Brunette and Prima Ballerina Brunette have the same facial shape and even the same nose. It always took me a minute to figure out which one was which during the camera pans.

Poor Sad Rex. How uncomfortable did Not!Girlfriend Brunette look when he declared his love? Dude, she's playing with your head. Flee, save yourself!

The only one that stood out was the big, blonde guy.

I would like to see more of the crew than just these. Thought the whole build up to contract renewal was kinda cool, though.
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#15

Arynm

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 10:17 PM

Love,love,love this show!!! I can't wait for the next episode. Alison is a little bitch isn't she? Fat ankles like Beckiann my ass. She is super jealous and can't stand that the young, pretty, new girl is climbing the ranks much faster than she did. Old hag! Poor boyfriend deserves so much better.

Loved the prima ballerina, she seemed nice, even though she did look sideways at Beckiann. I'm sure that clock is ticking very loud in her head. The pressure must be amazing, everyone hoping that she will fail.


I know these girls(and guys) have lots of injuries and I can't wait to really get into the dirty underside of the ballet world.
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#16

biakbiak

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 10:59 PM

I am fairly certain Utah and Salt Lake City got rid of the private club situation a few years ago. So why there are some restrictions, you no longer have to buy a membership to drink.

I thought this show was a bore.
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#17

randomchance

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 11:22 PM

It was so damn talky. It's a show about dancers, why are they all sitting cross-legged on the floor droning on and on? "I have to be perfect, I hope I get a contract, my ankle hurts," blahblahblahblah. Yeah, that's riveting. I'll give it another chance though - maybe this was just be a very bad case of Pilot Syndrome.
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#18

scarlett03

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 11:30 PM

I would have liked a little less soap opera and a little more dancing.

Supposedly, they're putting on three ballets this year... but we aren't even told which ones. Endless blah blah blah about Katie's relationship, but nothing about those ballets. Snore.

In the intro they tell us ballet dancers train more than Olympic athletes. Now that's interesting! Maybe a little more detail on this would be nice? I'd like to hear about the dancers' routine, their hours, what they're working on each day, particular challenges, etc. Some personal storylines are great, but I felt like this episode was 100% relationships, 0% dance.

p.s. Someone needs to buy Rex a copy of "She's Just Not That Into You." Come on, dude, have some dignity.
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#19

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 11:33 PM

Good god, I couldn't get over Allison's schnoz. Being so skinny only made it appear bigger. Do you think the company director will suggest a nose job before she gets promoted to soloist? It didn't help that she's a mean girl, too.

More dancing, less artistic 'staring-into-the-bright-light' shots, please.
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#20

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 11:38 PM

The beginning voice over reminded me of The Real World opening. It sounded so stale. The forced interactions like the 19-year-old girl talking to the three featured guys just because were very staged. I wish the reality element wasn't so apparent. Hopefully, they can work that out in the next episodes.

This article mentions which ballets they will be doing. It says they are working on “Don Quixote” and a repertory program with Balanchine’s “Emeralds,” Petipa’s “Paquita” and Jiri Kylian’s “Petite Mort.”
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#21

OptimisticCynic

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Posted Jun 1, 2012 @ 12:40 AM

I far preferred the documentary "first position" to this show. The dancers were younger (not much younger than the 19 year olds) and not yet professionally part of companies but the documentarian chose riveting, touching, and moving personal stories. It showed a lot more physical dancing and was less talky and not manufactured drama.

There were moments that felt like the dancers reciting lines or plot points obviously planted by the producers. The only one who interests me is Ronnie, beautiful dancer and I like the maturity in his experience and his dancing.

I also thought it was curious that no out gay men in the company are highlighted (unless Ronnie is gay). Perhaps that is just a Salt Lake thing though.

First position trailer: http://www.youtube.c...be_gdata_player
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#22

ElectricBoogalo

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Posted Jun 1, 2012 @ 1:34 AM

I far preferred the documentary "first position" to this show. The dancers were younger (not much younger than the 19 year olds) and not yet professionally part of companies but the documentarian chose riveting, touching, and moving personal stories.

ITA. First Position seemed to fly by, but Breaking Pointe seemed to drag. Hopefully now that they've done all the introductions and established who is who, etc. the following episodes will be better paced.

words cannot express how much I loathe Allison. Right, right. I'm sure she's getting the bitch edit.


I don't think she's getting the bitch edit. She's just being a bitch. First she passive aggressively said very loudly in rehearsal that her ankle was getting swollen and looked like Beckanne's, knowing that Beckanne was going to hear it. When Beckanne heard her name and walked over, Allison repeated what she said to her face and then added that you can balance forever on fat ankles. Sheesh. That is one catty, insecure mean girl picking on the young new girl who she is afraid will replace her.

I loved watching rehearsal and hearing the director give REAL feedback (I've obviously been watching too much of the useless "feedback" the judges give on SYTYCD).

Not!Girlfriend Brunette and Prima Ballerina Brunette have the same facial shape and even the same nose. It always took me a minute to figure out which one was which during the camera pans.

At first, I didn't know there were two of them. I mostly tell them apart by looking at their eyebrows. Christiana's are thicker on the inside and then they get thinner on the outside. Allison's are more uniform in thickness. Christiana's hair also has a redder hue while Allison's hair is a darker brown. But after an hour, the most telling thing is that Christiana has a smiley face while Allison has a dour bitch face and the only time I remember seeing her smile the entire episode was when Rex jokingly referred to her cankles.

it sounds as if Adam has created a new title of "first soloist" just to avoid promoting Ronnie to principal.

First soloist is a real position in some dance companies, so I think Ronnie was just mad that he wasn't promoted to principal. When he opened his letter and said, "I don't even know what that is," I think he was being facetious. I thought I saw him in the backstage footage (in costume) at the beginning of the episode so I'm pretty sure he will end up signing his contract. I wonder if he will try to negotiate with Adam to get bumped up to principal. I'd also be curious as to how many principal roles he has danced (since he brought it up when he got his first soloist contract offer). Understudying principal roles or performing principal roles at the matinee means they're testing the waters to see if you're principal material, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to make you a principal the next season.

One thing I didn't like about Ronnie was when he said he was the most unlikely ballet dancer you'll ever meet because he's into motorcycles or whatever. Okay, I get it. YOU'RE NOT GAY. Way to perpetuate the stereotype that you're the exception to the rule. I know that there are gay men who dance, but there are also plenty of straight men who dance so it annoys me whenever male dancers make a huge deal about not being gay.

The brothers are adorable together, so I'm glad that Ronald is staying instead of running after his girlfriend who doesn't even have a new job yet. It sucks that her contract wasn't renewed, but based on the stuff she was saying during rehearsal I can see why a director wouldn't want to keep Katie. She said she's "not a class girl" and that she sucks in class, couldn't pay attention in class, couldn't remember the combinations, couldn't pull it together, rated herself a -12, and left her dancing brain at home. She seems like a perfectly nice girl, but I wouldn't want a dancer who gets so distracted by stress that she can't handle simple class combinations.

I would love to hear some specifics from Rex and Allison about what they think their relationship is. She kept referring to him as a friend and then he said he loved her while they were out drinking. They're obviously not in the same place about the status of their relationship but I want to know if she's leading him on or if he can't take a hint. I'm sure in reality, it's a little bit of both. I couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry when she equated "I love you" with crazy talk.

The one thing I really disliked was the forced talking head moments. I think there's enough drama and one on one interviews to explain the backstage drama. I don't need the seven main characters sitting around a rehearsal room trying to make small talk. There's no reason why there would be a group of principals and soloists chatting before class with two girls in the corps (Katie and Beckanne) so it was obviously set up by the producers. The two corps girls didn't say anything so their presence was totally unnecessary.

I also hated the scene where Katie and Ronald were out at some restaurant. That felt way too much like I was watching The Hills. Same goes for Katie and Beckanne having lunch, but to a lesser degree. I hope they don't keep forcing the dancers to have their expository talks like that.

]This article[/url] mentions which ballets they will be doing. It says they are working on “Don Quixote” and a repertory program with Balanchine’s “Emeralds,” Petipa’s “Paquita” and Jiri Kylian’s “Petite Mort.”

The other interesting tidbit in that article was some of the other ballet companies they considered. I wonder how many of the companies the approached just flat out told them no. On a related note, I'm still holding out hope that someone will air En Pointe, the reality series that was filmed at Miami City Ballet last year. Maybe if Breaking Pointe does well, another channel will buy the rights to air En Pointe!

Have any of you watched Agony and Ecstasy about the English National Ballet? I've only been able to find a few clips on youtube and was wondering if I should try to hunt down the three episodes.

Edited by ElectricBoogalo, Jun 1, 2012 @ 1:48 AM.

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#23

Gabrielle Tracy

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Posted Jun 1, 2012 @ 6:12 AM

I like this so far! Are there any ballet folks here? (I think I saw someone upthread who was in a company). I noticed that one of the ballerinas said she is 32 years old and another who said she is 28. Is that very old in ballet years? It just seems that way; unless it's because I'm comparing them to 19 year old Beckianne.

Does anyone remember which of the ballerinas said she's from Pittsburgh? Everyone does kind of look the same to me!
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#24

Thadeeeyus

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Posted Jun 1, 2012 @ 7:05 AM

I would have liked a little less soap opera and a little more dancing.

Yep. I was encouraged at first but when it got to the Allison/Rex subtitled conversation at the club, my optimism faded. I'll watch again but I'm not as excited about this as I was.

Does anyone remember which of the ballerinas said she's from Pittsburgh? Everyone does kind of look the same to me!

Allison is from Pittsburgh. Here's an article on her and the show. http://old.post-gaze.../1235375-67.stm

From that article, this explains a lot.

Then, there is a bit of tension involving Ms. DeBona and fellow demi-soloist Rex Tilton, who is not shy about expressing his ardor ("I love Allison; she is beautiful."). Ms. DeBona, whose mother said she has been involved in a long-term, long-distance relationship with someone else, does not appear comfortable with this development.


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#25

pjamma

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Posted Jun 1, 2012 @ 7:21 AM

Did I hear the Artistic Director say this was the second best company in the US? I don't know a ton about ballet but I'm pretty sure the American Ballet Theatre, San Fransico and New York ballet companies make up the top three.

I was hoping for more dance. Maybe this was the exposition episode and we will see more of the rehearsals and subsequent injuries in future episodes. For now though, I am in.
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#26

ThatGrrl

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Posted Jun 1, 2012 @ 7:31 AM

Ah ha! So Allison has a long-distance relationship! That explains a lot. Thanks, for posting the article link, Thadeeeyus. Now I wonder if Rex knows about it and just keeps throwing himself at the immovable object that is Allison, or he didn't know at the point at which they were filming. Either way, she's being pretty clear in saying she considers him a friend (from what we've seen, at least). The big unspoken question for me is whether or not they've ever kissed or been intimate. Basically, whether Allison has done something to mess with his head by giving mixed signals. Because she can say she's not interested, but if she's engaging in drunken make-out sessions with him that she conveniently "forgets" (or denies the importance of) the next morning, it's bound to keep hope alive for Rex. Regardless, she's not worth it, Rex. You can do better.
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#27

ElectricBoogalo

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Posted Jun 1, 2012 @ 8:03 AM

And as an attractive straight ballet dancer (and isn't he a soloist now too?), there are plenty of girls who would be interested in him as soon as he quits chasing Allison.
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#28

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Posted Jun 1, 2012 @ 8:45 AM

I also thought it was curious that no out gay men in the company are highlighted (unless Ronnie is gay). Perhaps that is just a Salt Lake thing though.

I know, I was like, "What the city of Salt Lake will not allow anyonne gay to be filmed within its environs?" I am not in the ballet world, but aren't there at least 60% or so of the male dancers gay? I too thought there was waaay too much talk, not enough dancing. Allison looks anorexic, although probably you had to pass some psych test to be in the show that would rule that out.

Anyone know how much a ballet contract in a non-glamourous town like Salt Lake is worth?
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#29

braggtastic

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Posted Jun 1, 2012 @ 8:56 AM

"What the city of Salt Lake will not allow anyonne gay to be filmed within its environs?"

I'd lay money on the artistic director being gay. I was very surprised to see him in a suit in rehearsals. I suppose his job is part artistic/creative, part businessman. But my mom volunteers at NYCB & sees Peter Martins all the time, and he's always in casual clothing unless it's a gala or event with patrons.
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#30

kestrelle

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Posted Jun 1, 2012 @ 10:17 AM

I was very surprised to see [the artistic director] in a suit in rehearsals. I suppose his job is part artistic/creative, part businessman.


I've worked in arts administration for the entirety of my career (I left for higher ed in February and I miss parts of it) and yes, the artistic director is very much a combo. I'd say that the job is part season planning (selecting shows and casts), part day to day administration and a large part is fundraising. Most places will have an artistic director and an executive/managing director, who will handle most of the day to day business stuff (HR, contracts, production needs, etc...). But the artistic director has hands in a lot of that too. They're also the public face of the business, hence the fundraising, being interviewed for articles, that sort of thing. Arts management is a fascinating and unique field.
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