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Breaking Pointe: Ballet West Gets the Reality Treatment


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#391

capital h

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Posted Jul 6, 2012 @ 4:51 PM

I agree that I'm not invested enough in any of these characters to necessitate a season two at Ballet West, but I think it's highly unlikely they'll go elsewhere. Ballet West is probably the most prestigious company that's going to say yes to them--I can't see any of the biggies considering a reality show anything other than a distraction, and most of them probably don't need the free marketing push quite as much as a smaller company like Ballet West does. Ballet is generally so insular, I can't imagine companies signing up for this unless they were in really dire need of some publicity. Then again, if Ballet West ends up boosting its ticket sales substantially due to the show, all bets are off. I can see a whole list of the mid-size and bigger regionals lining up to do a season if that's the case--the way ballet ticket sales have been declining everywhere, they'll take all the publicity they can get. But if ticket sales do get a bump from the show, we probably won't find out until they've already lined up season 2.

I also think those of you who are hoping for more dance are delusional--not in the sense that I don't want to see it too, but in the sense that this is a CW reality show who knows that a) hardly under the age of 50 goes to see ballet anymore, so why would they bother tuning it to see it on TV? and b) their core audience is probably 13-18-year-old ballet students who are invested in the romance storylines. I do think that they could stand to focus less on the romantic storyline and more on the built-in drama of the ballet world, though. Professional rivalries between dancers, the stress of constantly feeling new dancers breathing down your neck, how the dancers deal with other people's unprofessional behavior, how the dancers relate to Adam as he jerks their self-esteem up and down by handing out or withholding roles, haha--all that stuff is ripe for drama, and the Rex/Allison stuff could easily be pushed to the background. (Of course, it's possible that Adam won't allow the cameras to focus on that kind of thing for fear of unnecessarily playing up drama in the work environment.) There is no way we're ever going to get more dance, though.

I love that the one article tried to play the Rex/Allison storyline off as a will-they-or-won't-they? when the entire season has just consisted of Allison saying "no" a hundred different ways. Where's the drama in that? That ending was so pathetic--they should have just ended it with Adam going to New York. Even if they couldn't show more of the auditions and his decisions because the contracts were still up in the air at that point, an ominous mention of how next year's dancers could shake everything up would have worked much better as an ending. That said, while Allison is totally opposed to a relationship with Rex now, I think that if he ever bothers to actually try to get over her for real, she'll come running back so fast his head will spin. If we get a season 2, I don't think there's any way it won't open with either Allison and Rex officially together or her back together with her ex--she needs the attention too much to just be alone.

I'm surprised everybody's digging Beckanne so much! Between the humble-bragging and the passive-aggressive potshots at other dancers, she comes across as totally obnoxious to me. "Well, most dancers don't get to do these roles until they're way older than little ol' me . . ." "I don't want to brag to everyone in the company about my profile in Dance magazine, so I'm just going to brag to the one person who I know will brag for me." This episode's "Well, some dancers don't like reading reviews because they're upset when they don't get mentioned" was especially hilarious--I'm not sure if she actually meant for that to be aimed at Allison or if it was just the editing, but it was funny solely because I'm sure Allison, in that particular case, after her disastrous performance, was just happy not to be mentioned at all. I do think that Beckanne is a sweet girl, but I don't think the other dancers' avoidance of her is solely due to professional jealousy. She doesn't really seem to get how those things sound coming out of her mouth.

Edited to add, on salaries: This article from 2005 claims that the average dancer at Ballet West made $28,000 a year, which is probably liveable in SLC but not incredibly comfortable. The dancers were, apparently, pushing for raises at that point so it's possible they make slightly more now. They're only guaranteed 35 weeks a year (which is about standard for a ballet company, I think), so yes, there's a substantial part of the year they have no income. Some ballet dancers collect unemployment for the months they're not working, if their contracts are structured in a way that allows for it. Others might be able to go home and teach at their home studios. Some do probably pick up non-ballet seasonal jobs like bartending or retail. And a few, like Christiana and her husband, probably make enough that they don't need to do any of that.

Edited by capital h, Jul 6, 2012 @ 5:15 PM.

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#392

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Posted Jul 6, 2012 @ 6:40 PM

"I don't want to brag to everyone in the company about my profile in Dance magazine, so I'm just going to brag to the one person who I know will brag for me."


Are you referring to the scene where Beckanne announces her interview within earshot of other dancers? IIRC, that scene just seemed to be producer machination more than Beckanne humble bragging. I imagined the producers bringing her in and telling her to tell so and so about the interview at just the right moment. This show had so many of those moments. Beckanne did bother me with her ingenue role, but every featured dancer was cast into a role for this show by producers. The roles weren't necessary, IMO. I wish we saw more of Beckanne's dancing versus Allison or Christiana to see if she is all that, but the snippets we got weren't really enough for me to tell.
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#393

miliosr

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Posted Jul 6, 2012 @ 7:29 PM

On the subject of noses, I'm glad neither Christiana nor Allison gave in to vanity and got nose jobs. Their noses are an ingenue's despair but a dowager's glory. They will come to love how regal those noses look in later life.
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#394

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Posted Jul 6, 2012 @ 9:13 PM

I read the article about the principal roles [Beckanne] has danced- holy crap. That girl is going places if she can stay injury free.


She's great and looks like she's going to have a brilliant career.

Rex may be an especially talented dancer but after the nonsense between him and Allison it ruins his dancing for me. I don't see why she's so special either. Ugh. In the last few eps I just fast forwarded through their scenes because I couldn't stand listening to them anymore.

They will come to love how regal those noses look in later life.


Christiana's nose really emphasizes her bird-like quality. It looks perfect on her face.
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#395

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Posted Jul 6, 2012 @ 9:37 PM

I wonder if those in ballet companies get their salaries year-round, or if they have several months without a paycheck. I know teachers can opt for paychecks throughout the year (whether it's 26 semi-weekly or 52 weekly, I don't know), so they can better budget their salaries to last through the summer


I imagine they get paid regularly, just like a normal person. They must have bills to pay and whatnot.

About salaries: I don't know how much a dancer in a company like Ballet West makes, but many years ago there was a survey and ballet dancer was ranked the second worst profession in America (the first one was POTUS). They considered stress level, injuries on the job, salaries and how long one would last in said job (those are the criteria I remember). It was a long, long time ago and I don't know if they replicated the study.


They forgot to include chefs/pastry chefs in that survey, because we don't make much over minimum wage, work our butts off, and get injured. There are TONS and TONS of professions like this. Mostly art related. It's sad, really, because people don't want to pay tons of money to eat or go see art. They don't realize how much physical labour and time goes into these things. People who sit at desks all day make more money! It's not about the money though, most of us have enough to live. Not enough to save much, but still. We do what we do because we love it, not because it makes tons of money. It's decision you make before entering these industries. And you also make the decision to stay. Do I think these jobs should make more money? I sure do! Will it ever happen? Probably not. No one wants to spend three times as much on a fancy dinner, ballet tickets, concert tickets, paintings, etc. The general public takes the amount of work that goes into it for granted. The thing is, we do what we do because we love it. So we always have that.
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#396

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Posted Jul 7, 2012 @ 9:23 AM

Rex may be an especially talented dancer but after the nonsense between him and Allison it ruins his dancing for me. I don't see why she's so special either.


The thing with the two of them, especially Allison but Rex has actually mentioned he can't always focus on dancing so I'm including him, is that they shouldn't be getting away with all that shit, not focusing etc. unless they are remarkably at what they do I can't see Adam putting up with them but the show hasn't really shown enough of their dancing to make me think they are worth putting up with.

Meanwhile you've got dancers like Christiana and Beckanne. In Christiana's case she seems like, when she dances she puts all her focus and attention on dancing and doesn't allow personal BS to distract her and doesn't place blame on others when she underperforms. She just does what she needs to to improve. And her dancing is lovely. She's very elegant. I think there are enough similarities between Christiana and Allison, physically, tall, slender, graceful lines, that the company doesn't need them both, unless Adam is thinking Allison is the perfect new Christiana when he is ready to send the later off to pasture. With Beckanne, she seems to have a natural gift for dance and is young enough that Adam would want to keep her and groom her in the Ballet West way setting her up for Prima down the line.

Depending on how long Christiana can keep her body from giving out on her and keep her head in the game, Allison could well be passed over for Beckanne. That is the Allison story they should have been telling. Not her ridiculous non-relationship with Rex, but her position within the company. Is she being groomed to become the next Christiana? Does she have the focus and determination that requires? Will the young hot shot, Beckanne, swoop in and take her spot?

Of course, this show being on CW was the worst thing that could happen to the dancing side of the show because CW doesn't care about dance, they care about relationship drama. I do wish this show had gone on A&E (is that channel still on?) or Discovery or one of those channels that would have focused more on the dance side of being a dancer.
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#397

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Posted Jul 7, 2012 @ 4:48 PM

I doubt Allison is ever getting Christiana's spot. There are five soloists/"first soloists" ahead of her (not that ballet promotions work in a perfect linear fashion like that, but you know what I mean), and three other demi-soloists (including Beckanne) who are younger than she is. She could get bumped up to soloist still, if she stays injury-free long enough, but I think that's about as far as Allison can hope for with Ballet West.
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#398

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Posted Jul 7, 2012 @ 5:22 PM

Between the humble-bragging and the passive-aggressive potshots at other dancers, she comes across as totally obnoxious to me.


Beckanne was also starting to grate on my nerves a little bit with the "some dancers" speeches for the past few episodes. I love the term "humble-brag" - it totally feels like that's what she does. I'm sure she is very sweet and is obviously very talented, but the wide eyed "I just don't see how some people can..." was a bit much. I still like her though!

I really liked this show - despite not enough dancing and too much drama, I secretly love reality shows, and ever since seeing Center Stage (IN THE THEATRE!), have loved ballet dancing stuff too. I'm glad I happened to catch this!
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#399

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Posted Jul 8, 2012 @ 2:08 AM

I took the 'some dancers' comments to be Beckanne's response to those relentless talking heads interrogations -- I mean, interviews -- without naming names. The editing monkeys did the rest by juxtaposing all her chatter with key footage. I'm just totally cynical about the 'reality' portion of any of these shows. Regardless, rather smart of her to stick to the ingenue role and refuse to snipe and point fingers.
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#400

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Posted Jul 9, 2012 @ 1:10 PM

I actually watched Center Stage this weekend because I had become intrigued with ballet via this relatively dull reality show. (I wonder what ever happened to those Center Stage dancers? Other than Zoe Saldana of course).

I give almost all of the people passes as far as "drama!" goes since I'm sure most of it was just played up for the cameras. But yes, when Rex opened his door at the end, I so wanted there to be a naked girl (or boy?) behind him just to freak out Allison.

I thought the moment in the restaurant with Chris & Christiana just really highlighted how normal they both are. Christiana's "crisis" was fleeting and Chris totally supported her. Oh, and sure Christiana has a big nose, but her hair was SO beautiful on display like that. So much fiery red. Really beautiful.

And the airport crying scene with Katie & Ron was so much more mature and heartfelt than all the Rex & Allison nonsense.

And I'm still hoping for Ballet Bros!
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#401

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Posted Jul 9, 2012 @ 1:27 PM

Beckanne was annoying me too except the last review related talking head. That's when I decided to stop finding reasons to like Allison. I mean Allison just crapped all over her roommate's review. After her I don't read reviews they are so suvjective nonsense I was so happy to have Beckanne say pointedly say that some dancers cannot bear to be ignored.
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#402

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Posted Jul 9, 2012 @ 1:32 PM

LAFilmFan- many of the Center Stage dancers are where they were when they filmed, just with promotions.

Misty Copeland did (much of) the dancing for Zoe Saldana and she is still with American Ballet Theatre, now as Soloist. At the time I think she was "studio company" (like what Katie was in Ballet West II).

Sasha Radesky was Charlie, and he is with ABT, also as soloist. At the time I think he was corps.

Ethan Steifel (Cooper) just retired as a principal from ABT, and he is the director of New Zealand Ballet. I believe he was already a principal when it filmed. If you do a google news search you can find recent articles about him.

Julie Kent (Kathleen) is a principal with ABT. I think she was also already a principal.

Ilia Kulik (Sergei) is actually an Olympic medal figure skater. I think he is still skating as a professional with occasional appearances in Disson TV specials, and possibly on the stars on ice tour.

The notable exception is Amanda Schull. She was an apprentice (again, like Katie) of the San Francisco ballet when she got the lead role, and moved up to the corps but then retired. She is now an actress.


It is pretty amazing to think this movie was from 2000, and 12 years later many are still dancing.

(Sorry to be off-topic, but I think everyone was comparing Breaking Pointe to Center Stage, despite the fact that from the intro scene the producers clearly wanted Black Swan connections.)
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#403

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Posted Jul 9, 2012 @ 6:22 PM

Zoe Saldana did a good job of faking her dancing then. At least tell me it was her up on the toe shoes. Or do you think she was suspended by wires or something?

Actually, I'm impressed that people are still dancing and it gives me good hopes for the younger people at Ballet West: the Tilton Bros and Katie & Beckanne.
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#404

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Posted Jul 9, 2012 @ 6:50 PM

I think it is impressive as well the longevity of the dancers! I guess Christiana is proof of that as well at her age and still seeming to have some years left. I would love to see more of Chris and Christiana together.

A little less Ronnie and his "stroke it" speeches. He is like a 13 year old trapped in the body of a 30 year old Adonis.

Amanda Schull was recently in the Shamrock Shake commercial for McDonald's - I think it re-ignited my love for Center Stage!
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#405

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Posted Jul 9, 2012 @ 8:56 PM

She's also in Pretty Little Liars.
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#406

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Posted Jul 9, 2012 @ 9:41 PM

Katie came across as a really sweet girl who was making the most of a bad situation, but did we ever touch upon why her contract may not have been renewed? I'm wondering if our resident dancers can weigh in on whether Katie's body type is frowned upon in ballet circles. She's obviously very thin, but obviously hippy/pear-shaped, whereas almost all the other women in the company seemed to have lithe, athletic, or only slightly curvy bodies.
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#407

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Posted Jul 9, 2012 @ 10:30 PM

She was in the training company. It's like an internship where only some will get hired on.
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#408

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Posted Jul 10, 2012 @ 3:22 AM

Katie seemed to know she was going, when she was having a bad class.
Shame they didnt follow more of her and Rons story and the second companies ballet, would have liked to see her dance.
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#409

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Posted Jul 10, 2012 @ 5:08 AM

Sasha Radesky was Charlie, and he is with ABT, also as soloist. At the time I think he was corps.


Yes, he was in the ABT corps when Center Stage was filmed. In 2003, he was promoted to soloist. In 2008, he moved to the Dutch National Ballet as a principal dancer. In 2010, he returned to ABT as a soloist. His wife was still at ABT so he came back to be with her. He was also in Ethan Stiefel's company (heh, I like to imagine him and Jody Sawyer in Cooper Nielsen's new company). A few months ago, he wrote a really great piece for Dance Magazine about his recent knee surgery as well as his previous injuries (read it here).

Amanda Schull has really been making the rounds as a guest star the last few years. Aside from Pretty Little Liars (which someone else already mentioned), she's also been on Grimm, Hawaii Five-O, Psych, Castle, Bones, The Mentalist, Lie to Me, One Tree Hill, Two and Half Men, The Ghost Whisperer, and Cold Case, all in non-dance roles. She also starred in Mao's Last Dancer (which my mom loved).

I think everyone was comparing Breaking Pointe to Center Stage, despite the fact that from the intro scene the producers clearly wanted Black Swan connections.

ITA that the producers were trying to suck people in using the popularity of Black Swan when in reality the show is much more like Center Stage (although to be honest, it feels like Breaking Pointe has lamer storylines - ALLISON AND REX).

I like that Christiana is realistic about knowing that there will always be younger girls nipping at her heels but that she's not freaking out about it. She knows that she can't dance forever and one day she'll be replaced by a younger dancer but for now she can enjoy her success without constantly looking over her shoulder and having hissy fits. She seems like a good combination of talented, professional, and confident without being a total bitch, which is nice to see. And if she really is a total bitch, at least she's smart enough not to show that on camera.

Edited by ElectricBoogalo, Jul 10, 2012 @ 6:09 AM.

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#410

capital h

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Posted Jul 12, 2012 @ 1:58 PM

Christiana is very lucky, though, in that it seems like her husband has set up a post-dancing career for himself pretty nicely (he choreographs, stages his father's ballets, and directs Ballet West II right now in addition to still dancing). I wouldn't be surprised if they're basically grooming him to take over Adam's role once he retires. So once Christiana's done dancing, they'll at least have her husband's career to fall back on. That should give her some time to figure out what she wants to do--and I wouldn't be surprised if his influence in the company managed to keep her involved in it somehow, as an instructor or part of the artistic staff or something along those lines. So she has a little less reason for panic than a lot of dancers on the edge of retirement age.
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#411

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Posted Jul 16, 2012 @ 4:51 PM

Oh, and I forgot to say that I really appreciated that Chris & Christiana were going camping after the season is over. I liked that for two reasons, 1) they aren't the type to squander what little money they no doubt make going on fancy vacations, and 2) they aren't the stereotypical "fussy" ballet dancers. I mean anyone who can stand on their toes for a living should have no problem dealing with scorpions and rattlesnakes!
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#412

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Posted Jul 23, 2012 @ 2:23 PM

I just saw the excellent ballet doc First Position, and was surprised to see quick glimpses of Beckanne and Adam at the Grand Prix. She only had one line (can't remember what it was), and he seemed to be one of the judges.
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#413

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Posted Jul 23, 2012 @ 2:58 PM

I just saw the excellent ballet doc First Position, and was surprised to see quick glimpses of Beckanne and Adam at the Grand Prix. She only had one line (can't remember what it was), and he seemed to be one of the judges.


Same here! I was so proud of myself for recognizing them. I really wish that the show could be more like First Position. It would be waaaay more interesting, IMO. Some of those stories were amazing, without any manufactured drama.
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#414

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Posted Jul 25, 2012 @ 8:14 AM

I agree. Some of those kids seem like professional dancers already! It's too bad we didn't see more dancing and less drama on Breaking Pointe. Still, I would watch a second season.
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#415

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Posted Jul 25, 2012 @ 9:01 AM

Thank you to whoever recommended First Position. What a fabulous film. Producers of Breaking Pointe should watch it and take notes. I agree with others here, they were going for the "Black Swan" rivalry but ended up with a bad Reality TV remake of Center Stage (which is what they should have capitalized on, I don't think they realize that the CS crowd is more apt to watch reality TV than the audience that BS was aimed at). I hope that CW drops the show and a network that will edit it more in a "First Position" manner over a "MTV" way takes over.

And, after reading the entire thread, am I the only one who thought Ronnie was the gay Cooper Nielsen? His interaction with Adam in the hallway coupled with his pole dance in the club sent my gaydar off. He was a little too flirtatious for the "non typical, tattoed, car racing, straight ballet dude" he claims to be.

I feel badly for Allison, I think she got a bad edit but that wasn't helped out much by her own attitude.

Beckanne seemed to get it, as did Christiana, as they seemed to be aware enough of the cameras to be on "best behavior" and not say anything too stupid.
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#416

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Posted Jul 29, 2012 @ 7:30 AM

The main reason I found First Position to be superior to Breaking Pointe was the sheer amount of dance seen in each. I saw First Position a few months ago and thought that Breaking Pointe would be the tv equivalent with a lot of dancing and relevant back stories. Instead, we got significantly less dancing and way more uninteresting storylines. Although Rex and Allison is the main one that comes to mind, most of the other stories were inconsequential and boring too.

One of the interviews with Beckanne posted earlier mentioned that Adam first saw her at the Grand Prix when she was younger and he then recruited her to come to Ballet West.
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#417

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Posted Aug 16, 2012 @ 5:39 AM

Beckanne won a Princess Grace Award:

National in scope, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA is dedicated to identifying and assisting emerging talent in theater, dance, and film by awarding grants in the form of scholarships, apprenticeships, and fellowships. Over the past 27 years, the Foundation has awarded nearly $7 million to nearly 500 theater, dance, and film artists nationwide.


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#418

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Posted Aug 16, 2012 @ 8:21 AM

Just a quick heads up. Ballet West will be performing The Nutcracker at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC December 5-9. Tickets go on sale September 12th. I live in the area, so I'll be attending. I'll report back on how they do! :)
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#419

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Posted Sep 27, 2012 @ 6:47 AM

Very pleased to hear this has been renewed. Hope we get a little more dance a little less relationship drama, there will clearly be more tension in the company as the youngsters rise which is far more interesting.

Beckanne used to study at The Rock, the school that Michaela was training at during First Position. And I'm sure Adam had mentioned having his eye on Beckanne from her performances at that competition.
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#420

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Posted Sep 27, 2012 @ 8:14 AM

I have to admit that I'm surprised, but happy. Definitely hoping they make it a little more like First Position. I agree; let the drama come from the creative process and not the boring relationship stuff.
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