We've Finally Reached "Breaking Pointe"!

It's the moment we've all been waiting for: "Breaking Pointe," the new CW series following Salt Lake City's Ballet West, premieres tonight!

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a screener copy of the first episode, so believe me when I say: You will be obsessed with this show. There's tons of behind-the-scenes drama—some of it dance-related (the first episode documents contract renewal day, and let's just say not everyone ends up happy), some of it not so dance-related (half the cast members are dating each other, so...). It's seriously entertaining.

And interesting. The show's mission, according to artistic director Adam Sklute, is to be "the antidote to Black Swan," disproving the movie's negative stereotypes. While a few small aspects of the show do seem a bit "Black Swan"-y (the opening includes dancers in dramatic spotlights, with a voice-over intoning "We do it to be perfect" ominously), for the most part "Breaking Pointe" seems to present ballet's joys and heartaches pretty realistically. It's nice to see Sklute talking about the instability of a dancer's life in a way that's sympathetic as well as candid: “I often have to make decisions that my dancers don’t like," he says in this episode. "It’s hard on them. But the best recipe for creating a hardworking and well-functioning dancer and artist is if all the dancers know that they are special, but also that they’re expendable.” (That's about as mean as he gets, by the way. No evil directors here.)

Can't wait for the premiere? Read our interview with cast member Beckanne Sisk about filming the series, and check out the preview below!

(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Photo by Erin Baiano

Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.

Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."

Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?

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Photo by Erin Baiano

Click here to vote for Emma.

There's a story Kate Walker, director of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, loves to tell about Emma Sutherland, who just graduated from the program. "We were watching the students run a really long, challenging piece," Walker recalls. "Several kids couldn't quite make it through. But Emma did make it all the way to the end, which is when she walked up to us faculty and very politely asked, 'May I please go throw up?' "

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