Last year, when Breaking Pointe reached it’s performance episodes, I was amazed by the realism. It brought back memories of production week and performance night, especially when we perform The Nutcracker, which I believe is the closest we come to what it’s like to be a professional dancer.
We perform Nutcracker seven times in four days (two shows a day except for the Sunday finale. We have intense rehearsals the Saturday before the performances and move into the theater with spacing rehearsals on Sunday and practically live there the rest of the week.
That’s why last night’s episode of Breaking Pointe didn’t seem quite as real as it was reality TV. It almost gives you the impression Cinderella (a very difficult ballet from what I’ve heard) was almost thrown together at the last minute … and that everyone is dealing with personal drama when they take the stage.
Maybe it’s because I dance with a younger crowd, but I don’t recall a whole of lot personal drama keeping a performance from coming together.
And by the time we stagger out of that intense rehearsal on Saturday, we’re pretty much ready. We know our parts, although you wouldn’t know it by how much we rehearse in the wings before going on stage.
Come tech week, you can almost make an argument we’re over rehearsed. Many of us who’ve done the same parts in previous Nutcrackers don’t really have to think about it … We KNOW it.
Yes, there are sometimes wardrobe malfunctions, and problems with props or sets. Those things do happen. While I don’t believe anybody can say they had the perfect performance, I don’t really recall any disaster moments either.
Yeah, there are mistakes perhaps the most skilled ballet watcher may notice, like Christiana coming out of pointe during her pas with Rex, but most in the audience wouldn’t recognize the mistake. And there are occasionally mistakes people will notice, such as our snow queen slipping on a piece of confetti on stage during Snow and falling on her butt, but those are usually rare.
And usually when they do happen, dancers usually get back up and keep going.
But I don’t know of anyone who will blame mistakes on problems going on off stage. Yes, I know it happens. But most of the people I’ve danced with have been pretty good at blocking those off.
I’ve gone into Nutcracker (and other ballets) with stress going on from work or home, but once I’m on stage, I tend to block things out pretty well and let the adrenaline take over.
The one thing I found very real from the episode? I’ve know dancers who got hurt at the last minute and had to be replaced. That’s happened at least three times. One girl slipped off pointe and broke her arm the week before we did Dracula. The girl dancing lead Arabian sprained her ankle during our last Saturday rehearsal and another girl got hurt right before Billy the Kid.
And their understudies did great.
I’ve also known dancers who went ahead and danced despite their injuries. The guy who danced lead Russian for us last year did so with an injured shin. One of our cavaliers danced with a hurt shoulder.
Both did great, but both dealt with the injuries afterwards, especially the one with the injured shoulder.
Sometimes, when it comes to Breaking Pointe, you have to ask yourself: “Is this real, or just reality TV?”