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Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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(Courtesy photo) Ballet West Artistic Director Adam Sklute and dancer Allison DeBona on "Breaking Pointe."
"Breaking Pointe" raises Ballet West's profile — and brings out the critics

Ballet West's television experiment - making itself the subject of The CW's summer series "Breaking Pointe" - didn't do big ratings. We already knew that.

The six-episode run averaged fewer than a million viewers per week, and the finale dipped below 800,000. Which would have gotten the show canceled on every broadcast network but The CW.

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But as artistic director Adam Sklute and the dancers insisted from before the show premiered, the goal was to give Ballet West more exposure. Up the company's profile.

Which, according to an article in Dance USA magazine - http://www.danceusa.org/ejournal/post.cfm?entry=can-breaking-pointe-fix-ballet - by Karyn D. Collins, it did.

• During the month of June, the Ballet West website had more than 6-million hits - up from 1.2 million in May.

• The show trended on Twitter during airings of each of the six episodes.

• According to Sklute, subscription renewals are up from last year.

• Also according to Sklute, Ballet West was invited to perform in New York City as a result of the show.

• And the company's upcoming performance of "The Nutcracker" at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., is getting more attention, Sklute said.

Collins' story quotes a number of artistic directors and critics who expressed varying degrees of enthusiasm for the show, nearly all of them mentioning the possibility for increased exposure.

"I think 'Breaking Pointe' is the first time reality TV has elevated the discussion about anything instead of dumbing it down," Salt Lake Tribune dance writer Kathy Adams is quoted as saying in the story.

As one might expect from the ballet world, however, it didn't receive universal praise. You could almost see Milwaukee Ballet artistic director Michael Pink sniffing and looking down his nose when he told Collins, "I think it was just distasteful. It's cheap television. In the meantime, what is it saying about our profession? I don't think there's any value to it because you're dumbing it down so you can make it something people can talk about."

Heaven forbid people should talk about ballet. And, perhaps, but a ticket and attend a performance.

That's what "Breaking Pointe" was all about.



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