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Breaking Pointe: Ballet West Gets the Reality Treatment


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#331

starlitskyy

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Posted Jun 29, 2012 @ 6:56 PM

Interesting article on Ballet West spring season that we just saw premier last night: http://www.sltrib.co...ompany.html.csp

Katie (fired dancer) and Ronald (Rex's brother) were both in "Ballet West II" which was putting on the Little Mermaid at the same time. Not sure why the cameras couldn't stick around and take a few shots of the other production, but it seems like that's why they haven't been featured in the past few stories.
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#332

ElectricBoogalo

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Posted Jun 29, 2012 @ 7:04 PM

Dear Allison: I assume the producers soothed you and made you feel like you were chatting companionably with a friend, but you were not. You were being filmed and the editors are now gleefully exposing your every weakness for ratings. Lesson learned, I hope?

Lesson #2: stop acting like a 6 year old when you're at work, regardless of the cameras.

Also of note from the article above is confirmation of what someone else previously posted about Christiana's husband:

Additionally, dancer Chris Ruud has been named the new director of Ballet West II, after the passing of Mark Goldweber in December. Ruud will also continue as a principal dancer with Ballet West.


Edited by ElectricBoogalo, Jun 29, 2012 @ 7:09 PM.

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#333

meatball77

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Posted Jun 29, 2012 @ 9:25 PM

So the little mermaid was with the ballet west II which is the trainee program and their ballet school? Sounds like a smart decision, get those kids parents to all buy tickets to see the other show and use the theater that you already have booked.

I would have liked to have seen some of that (although dealing with the filming around the kids might have been a more than they wanted to deal with.
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#334

LeDucDiableBleu

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Posted Jun 29, 2012 @ 11:34 PM

I can see why Adam Sklute wants Allison in lead roles. To me, she is asthetically pleasing to look at, tall, has very long legs and seems really graceful, poised, etc onstage. Yes, I know her actual skills sucked but to my untrained eye I can see how she has potential to be awesome looking onstage. But her attitude is beyond repair and she seems like shes actually hurting the company at this point.

Christiana and her husband were sooo cute together and her husband is hot! He seems like he has a really positive attitude and it would have been nice to see them instead of Allison's constant whining. God I have never seen anyone whine so much and be that high maintenance. She is exhausting to watch on tv.

ITA about Allison's mom's statement re: Allison's boyfriend. Her mom still believes that they will be/are together. If I were Allison I'd be pissed my mom is talking to the press about my ex, but Allison doesn't seem to have many boundaries with her parents. I was cringing during that lunch, it was incredibly tmi for everyone involved.

I would also love to hear a frank discussion about what the women have given up for ballet- boyfriends, husbands, children. What about college? I guess if you are good enough to be a pro dancer you just do it as long as you can?
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#335

GrrlPower

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Posted Jun 30, 2012 @ 2:09 AM

I can see why Adam Sklute wants Allison in lead roles. To me, she is asthetically pleasing to look at, tall, has very long legs and seems really graceful, poised, etc onstage. Yes, I know her actual skills sucked but to my untrained eye I can see how she has potential to be awesome looking onstage. But her attitude is beyond repair and she seems like shes actually hurting the company at this point.


I wonder if the company is hurting her. I don't meant to sound conspiratorial, but Adam doesn't seem to like Allison (just the impression I get from how he talks about her) and Adam pushes Allison much harder than any other dancer by making her dance several roles. That seems like a good way to break a dancer down both in spirit and in body.

On Christopher Ruud...Am I imagining a gender preference for males as directors and other upper-level staff in ballet companies? I see a clear career path for male dancers after their years of performing (as evidenced by recent moves made by Christopher Ruud), but what do female dancers do after they can't dance anymore? Do they settle for teaching positions? Seems like a sexist system - which is weird considering that ballet is considered such a feminine profession by the layperson.
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#336

miliosr

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Posted Jun 30, 2012 @ 5:29 AM

On Christopher Ruud...Am I imagining a gender preference for males as directors and other upper-level staff in ballet companies? I see a clear career path for male dancers after their years of performing (as evidenced by recent moves made by Christopher Ruud), but what do female dancers do after they can't dance anymore? Do they settle for teaching positions? Seems like a sexist system - which is weird considering that ballet is considered such a feminine profession by the layperson.

You're not imagining it. Ballet companies run by females are essentially rather scarce in the US. I can think of three off the top of my head: Suzanne Farrell w/ the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Lourdes Lopez w/ the Miami City Ballet and Colleen Neary (w/ her husband) w/ the Los Angeles Ballet. (All three are former New York City Ballet dancers.)

In Europe, it's a little better. Two of the 'Big 7' companies in the world (Bolshoi and Kirov in Russia, Royal Danish in Denmark, Paris Opera Ballet in France, Royal English in Britain, and ABT and NYCB in the US) are run by women: Brigitte Lefevre at the Paris Opera Ballet and Monica Mason at the Royal English. (Mason is retiring after this season, though, and a male is replacing her.) Also, Royal English ballerina Tamara Rojo has just taken charge of the English National Ballet.

Things are better for women in modern dance where Carla Maxwell has run the Limon Dance Company for 34 years, Judith Jamison ran the Alvin Ailey Company for 20+ years, and several women have run the Martha Graham Dance Company since Graham's death in 1991.
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#337

StarryDreamer

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Posted Jun 30, 2012 @ 7:08 AM

ETA: found this review of the triple bill. Turns out the woman in the ads is a Emily Adams. I wonder why they'd use her instead of Christiana?


Someone linked to an article from, I believe the Salt Lake Tribune a few pages back that had 3 promotional photos for Emeralds. One was of the Emily Adams girl and the other 2 were of Christiana. I suspect it was just that particular ad that you found and the position Adams was in that made them choose it for that version. Christiana's may not have been as dramatic or what they'd wanted. But she does have pictures out there.
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#338

funkmachine

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Posted Jun 30, 2012 @ 7:42 AM

I have been reading the discussion here avidly and watching the show each week. I am not sure if I am ready to blame Allison's mother for focusing on Jonathan against her daughter's wishes. I was surprised to learn, from Allison's own mouth when she was talking to her parents, that she talks to Jonathan about once a week and he periodically sends her a box of her things. That's a lot of contact for an ex-boyfriend. I think that there is more there that what we have been told by Allison.

I don't think her parents are crazy and we have seen the mixed messages she sends to Rex. I would not be surprised if her parents don't quite understand what her situation is with Jonathan.

Rex needs his family to tell him to leave Allison alone. I am at the point where I don't know what he sees in her. There are probably a dozen young women who would be thrilled to date him. I'm beginning to think he's got some deep seated self-esteem issues.
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#339

GrrlPower

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Posted Jun 30, 2012 @ 12:48 PM

You're not imagining it. Ballet companies run by females are essentially rather scarce in the US. I can think of three off the top of my head: Suzanne Farrell w/ the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Lourdes Lopez w/ the Miami City Ballet and Colleen Neary (w/ her husband) w/ the Los Angeles Ballet. (All three are former New York City Ballet dancers.)


Thanks miliosr, I now have a list of ballet companies to support :)
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#340

mymelody

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Posted Jun 30, 2012 @ 2:13 PM

Ballet companies run by females are essentially rather scarce in the US. I can think of three off the top of my head: Suzanne Farrell w/ the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Lourdes Lopez w/ the Miami City Ballet and Colleen Neary (w/ her husband) w/ the Los Angeles Ballet. (All three are former New York City Ballet dancers.)


All talented women in their own right. However, I have heard stories from former dancers who worked with one of the female ADs on this list, that she engaged in rather divisive behaviors against other ballerinas whom she perceived as threats or rivals during her dancing years. I guess my point is don't just assume that female ADs are going to be more welcoming or sympathetic to plights of ballerinas. Though if you watch La Danse and notice how easily Brigitte Lefevre understood and sympathize with the self-confessed doubts of an older, female corps dancer during their meeting, there might be an advantage to some degree.

Problem is women in ballet have traditionally been muses, not creators of original works. Choreography was the traditional domain of men, and so it continues that the position of AD is therefore predominantly male. For a long time, choreography was the preferred background to have in an AD, so it's not really a direct form of sexism per se, but more of a continuance of weird ballet hierarchy. It can be argued that there are more avenues or opportunities for female ex-dancers to become coaches or repetiteurs than her male counterpart because ballerinas are often the focus of Classical works. So men often have to branch out in more creative ways in order to continue working in dance. Many reasons for this unfortunate imbalance.

Edited by mymelody, Jun 30, 2012 @ 2:16 PM.

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#341

mathpint

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Posted Jun 30, 2012 @ 10:00 PM

My biggest question is how can both Allison and Rex, and to a lesser extent Ronnie, be up for the lead roles with each being a demi-soloist (or in Ronnie's case a soloist)? I mean I get that the AD can cast who he wants, but wouldn't the other principals or soloists be like, "Um... hey... I want those roles?" There were only a total of 6 lead roles for each gender (unless there's a 3rd cast?), and you have 2 principals of each gender and quite a few soloists of each gender that would arguably want the jobs.
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#342

ElectricBoogalo

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Posted Jun 30, 2012 @ 11:12 PM

Ballet West has 2 female principals, 4 female soloists, 3 female demi soloists, 11 female artists, and 6 females in BW2, which is a total of 26 female dancers (according to an earlier post, BW2 was busy with The Little Mermaid so I'm going to assume that there were 20 female dancers available for the gala).

Emeralds has 14 female roles, four of which are leads/solos. I'm not sure how much of Paquita they actually did at the gala, but from what we saw in rehearsals there was at least one female lead and two female soloists. Petit Mort has six female roles (one of which was a lead). That's a total of 13 lead/solo (non-corps) roles for the 20 females in the regular (non-BW2) company. Once you double that number to take into account the first and second casts, that's 26 lead/solo roles available for 20 female dancers.

We were only shown the roles that the 3 female characters on Breaking Pointe had (Christiane as the Emeralds lead in cast 1, Allison as the Emeralds lead in cast 2, Beckanne and Allison as Paquita soloists in cast 1, and Christiane as the lead in Petit Mort). That leaves 21 opportunities for the other 17 female dancers in the company so I would guess that the other female principal and the four female soloists were not all relegated to the Emeralds corps.

Even if you take the artists out of the equation (and consider Beckanne and exception to the rule) and pare it down to 9 total female dancers (principals, soloists, demi soloists) and only count the leads/solos we have seen on the show (1 lead in Emeralds, 1 lead and 2 solos in Paquita, 1 lead in Petit Mort for a total of 5 lead/solo roles in the gala, doubled to 10 for first and second cast), including Beckanne still left enough solo/lead roles for the 9 non-corps female dancers.

On a related note, Jewels is listed as part of the 2012-2013 season so it will be interesting to see if he keeps Christiana and Allison as the leads for Emeralds or if he recasts completely.
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#343

dely

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Posted Jul 1, 2012 @ 2:49 PM

With respect to women in administrative positions in world class companies, don't forget The National Ballet of Canada with our wonderful Karen Kain as Artistic Director!
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#344

Meerkat13

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Posted Jul 1, 2012 @ 2:57 PM

Second this.
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#345

miliosr

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Posted Jul 1, 2012 @ 3:07 PM

Though if you watch La Danse and notice how easily Brigitte Lefevre understood and sympathize with the self-confessed doubts of an older, female corps dancer during their meeting, there might be an advantage to some degree.

I went to see the Paris Opera Ballet yesterday in Chicago and I saw Madame Lefevre after the evening show. She was talking to some of the female dancers who were gathered outside the Harris Theater. I would say she is quietly formidable in person.
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#346

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Posted Jul 1, 2012 @ 5:56 PM

Finally watched the episode, and when Allison was slogging through her solo all I could think of was the AD's comment in the previous episode... that there are three people you don't want to piss off during Tech week (the conductor, the AD, and the (?? guest artist, I forgot the term). I thought, "she FINALLY pissed off the coductor."

Conductor's voice over: "you want it slower, huh? I'll give you slower."
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#347

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Posted Jul 1, 2012 @ 6:10 PM

[quote]Tech week (the conductor, the AD, and the (?? guest artist, I forgot the term)['/quote] I believe it was the the AD, Conductor, and Costumer. All of whom can make your life hell and affect your performance. The AD has the power to pull you from a number if needed. The Conductor controls your tempo. The Costumer makes sure your costumes fit. So unless you want to do be relegated to the Corps, dancing in slow-motion, in a costume four sizes too big or small; be nice to those people. (You should be nice to them anyway.)
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#348

nottadancer

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Posted Jul 1, 2012 @ 6:28 PM

After watching the show and reading all the forums I would really like to go see a ballet other than the Nutcracker. The Detroit area does not have a ballet company and I'm not sure if the 2012/2013 theatre season will have a traveling corp coming.

My question to the masses is if I were to travel to see a company where should I go? Should I try to go to NY or are the smaller cities (Lousiville, Cinncinatti, or Columbus) have a worthy enough company to make a trip?

I'm personally loving the show. I love all that goes into dance the training, preparing the shoes, rehearsals and drama of who gets what parts. I don't love the shots of the poor dancers feet. I'm assuming the mens feet are not quite as bad?
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#349

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Posted Jul 1, 2012 @ 8:08 PM

Is there a breakdown of what each person is in and whether they are first/second cast? Does Rex not perform at all in first cast? Here's what I've gleaned so far:

Ronnie: First cast, lead Paquita
Christiana: First cast, lead Emeralds; Second cast, lead Paquita; she's in Petite Mort also, I think
Allison: First cast, corps/solo Paquita; Second cast, lead Emeralds; she's in Petite Mort too?
Beckanne: First cast (and second cast), corps/solo Paquita; First cast, corps Emeralds?
Rex: Second cast, lead Paquita; second cast, Petite Mort?
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#350

ElectricBoogalo

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Posted Jul 1, 2012 @ 8:39 PM

Ronnie, Christiana, Rex, and Allison were all shown rehearsing Petite Mort, and Beckanne was shown in the Petite Mort rehearsal so it's likely that she was also cast (there are six female roles so there are twelve total female roles for first and second cast). Petite Mort is the one with the big black sheet where Rex fell so he was definitely in the second cast.

According to one of Allison's talking head interviews, Adam said he wouldn't cast her or Beckanne in the Emerald corps but then he cast them in the corps anyway so I would guess she was in the first cast corps for that. Technically, Beckanne was cast as a Paquita soloist only for the first cast but ended up performing the same role in the second cast because of the other soloist's injury.
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#351

capital h

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Posted Jul 1, 2012 @ 9:15 PM

After watching the show and reading all the forums I would really like to go see a ballet other than the Nutcracker. The Detroit area does not have a ballet company and I'm not sure if the 2012/2013 theatre season will have a traveling corp coming.

My question to the masses is if I were to travel to see a company where should I go? Should I try to go to NY or are the smaller cities (Lousiville, Cinncinatti, or Columbus) have a worthy enough company to make a trip?


Is the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago off-limits for some reason? In terms of quality, they're better than any other Midwestern company out there, and I've found that their prices are pretty comparable to most of the regional companies. And it doesn't seem like they'd be any farther of a drive than Cincinnati or Louisville. (Then again, if you're looking for a romantic, old-school ballet then the Joffrey might not be your best bet, haha.)

If you really want to see the best, then go to New York. But honestly, as a novice viewer, the ballet's ability to pull you in will probably matter more to you than the dancers' technique--you're not going to be able to tell as much difference between a regional company dancer and an NYCB dancer as someone who's been watching for years, so it's probably not really worth it to shell out all that extra cash for it. And it's always nice to support your local companies. If you see something that looks interesting at a regional company, try it out! And if you really love it, you can always plan a trip to New York later on.

And so this post isn't totally off topic: Anybody else feel like the inevitable demise of this show will be mostly chalked up to Adam Sklute's necessity to use every single talking head as a P.R. op? I mean, obviously the reason Ballet West chose to do the show was for marketing purposes, and I don't fault them that . . . but Adam seems to be sticking hard way too hard to that line. Telling us that Christiana is the best dancer he's ever seen in Emeralds? I've only seen it a couple times, and she still wasn't the best dancer I've ever seen in it. Telling us that Allison "handled the stress" just fine when we're watching her have a full-on multi-day meltdown? Come on. At least play along with the drama a little bit. Don't treat your audience like we're idiots.
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#352

LeDucDiableBleu

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Posted Jul 1, 2012 @ 9:43 PM

Yeah, ita about Adam Sklute's talking heads. He comes off slightly like a salesman, but he really does seem like a super nice guy and very hard working. Just not good for reality tv. Christiana's performance didn't draw me in at all, and wasn't compelling to me for some reason. She looked much more amazing in the shots we saw of them at rehearsal. So when Sklute was saying she was the best he'd ever seen I was like okay...?
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#353

Cheech

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Posted Jul 2, 2012 @ 12:21 AM

After seeing Allison and her family, I honestly feel sorry for her more than anything else. While her behavior is at times annoying, she's clearly in a lot of pain and trying to work to get past a relationship. It seemed to me like perhaps this Jonathan broke up with her and is moving on, or they mutually broke up and she's regretting it now, and he isn't. Either way I know what it's like when your parents try and tell you to do something impossible, let get back with a boyfriend who dumped you and is NOT interested anymore. That has to suck especially if it's what she really wants and knows she can't have. Ughh. So annoying to watch. I wonder if the fact that she left the boyfriend to focus on ballet is what's forcing her to put so much pressure on herself?

Beckanne = total pro. She has a really mature attitude and approach to work that's pretty refreshing, honestly. The description said she went on a triple date with Tiltons - where the F was that?! I would actually want to see that.

Felt bad that Rex had to fall. I want him and Allison to get over their issues because without them I feel like they're both likable people.
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#354

ElectricBoogalo

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Posted Jul 2, 2012 @ 2:30 AM

Beckanne's "one to watch" feature in Dance Magazine (the one they talked about a few episodes ago) is out now. It's not available on the website yet, but the issue is now out. If they don't put it on their website soon, I'll try to scan mine so I can post it here. There's a great picture of her in last season's production of Don Quixote. The article also says she danced the role of the Sugarplum Fairy in the Nutcracker, so I guess she wasn't exaggerating when she said she'd already been given some good roles her first season with the company.
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#355

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Posted Jul 2, 2012 @ 4:58 AM

Tamarra Rojo has left the Royal ballet to head up the English national ballet so thats another woman heading up a company, rebalances monica mason being replaced by a man at the Royal.

Thought Allison looked much better with her hair down when out with her family.

Rex looked fabulous in Paquita, hope he can exorcise Allison from his head, he would shoot up in the company (maybe he should try and head elsewhere).

BeckAnne too, you can tell Adam is so excited to have her in the company, dosent hurt that shes so pretty too, can see her selling a lot of tickets.
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#356

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Posted Jul 2, 2012 @ 7:09 AM

After seeing Allison and her family, I honestly feel sorry for her more than anything else. While her behavior is at times annoying, she's clearly in a lot of pain and trying to work to get past a relationship. It seemed to me like perhaps this Jonathan broke up with her and is moving on, or they mutually broke up and she's regretting it now, and he isn't. Either way I know what it's like when your parents try and tell you to do something impossible, let get back with a boyfriend who dumped you and is NOT interested anymore.


Allison mentioned in an earlier episode that they broke up because she'd wanted to pursue ballet. He wanted her to stay, she (I guess) got the job at Ballet West and wanted to leave to be successful in ballet. They had to break up because she'd left town and they couldn't pursue a long distance relationship.

It sounds to me as though the ex has found someone new, which is what is making Allison so upset. She probably figured that when she's set to "retire" he'd still be waiting for her and they'd just get back to normal. Plus there's probably a lot of hurt built up because he didn't follow her to SLC and continue their relationship.
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#357

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Posted Jul 2, 2012 @ 7:51 AM

The description said she went on a triple date with Tiltons

I wish they'd shown us that, for sure! Although maybe they dumped it for Allison chats with her parents time. Cause that's super exciting.

I think Allison left town and Jonathan didn't follow her, so it's not surprising that it's not working out. they may have never had a good clean break, though.
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#358

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Posted Jul 2, 2012 @ 10:50 AM

So Allison is quite new to Ballet West and can get away with her behaviour?
I just thought she'd been there forever and they were used to her.
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#359

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Posted Jul 2, 2012 @ 11:26 AM

I thought she had been there for a while as well. Perhaps they were doing the long distance, or Jonathan lived in the same city for a while but had to move for work? Who knows.
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#360

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Posted Jul 2, 2012 @ 1:30 PM

Beckanne's "one to watch" feature in Dance Magazine (the one they talked about a few episodes ago) is out now. It's not available on the website yet, but the issue is now out. If they don't put it on their website soon, I'll try to scan mine so I can post it here. There's a great picture of her in last season's production of Don Quixote. The article also says she danced the role of the Sugarplum Fairy in the Nutcracker, so I guess she wasn't exaggerating when she said she'd already been given some good roles her first season with the company.


That would be awesome, ElectricBoogalo - I'd love to see that article.

I was flipping through Ballet West's blog and saw that Rex and Ronald played the top and bottom halves of Mother Buffoon in the 2011 Nutcracker production (photos 2/3 way down the page).
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