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On Pointe Review 2020 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew Online
Ballet thrives on talent. Never mind any of the other deciding factors when it comes to casting. If a dancer doesn’t have talent, the roles aren’t going to come.
The brutal truth comes out in “On Pointe,” a six-part docu-series on Disney+ that shows what goes on behind the scenes at the New York City Ballet.
Casting roles in the holiday warhorse, “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker,” directors show what they’re looking for and what separates one dancer from another.
It’s a fascinating dip into a world most don’t realize exists. To play the ballet’s children, those directors look to the School of American Ballet, a no-nonsense feeder program that shows what those pre-teens do to get into one of the most prestigious shows in the dance world.
Director Larissa Bills follows several as they audition to be everything from “hoops” to the featured child, Marie.
In some cases, size plays a role. If a dancer is too tall for a part, he or she isn’t considered. Another role could loom, but this isn’t child’s play. It’s work.
Bills shows the lengths the children go to, spending hours in transit to the studio where technique is everything.
Chronicling the ballet company’s season, “On Pointe” shows everyone from the 6-year-olds to the teaching assistants, dancers hoping to make this a career.
Faculty chair Kay Mazzo details her own journey. She, too, started early. Working with Balanchine when she was just a child, she rose to principal dancer and performed some of the key roles in the business. When she retired, Balanchine asked her to teach at SAB. She’s practical and honest, able to admit for some the career may end before it even begins.
“On Pointe” shows the care that goes into teaching. Children from all parts of New York take those beginning classes. Teenagers from all over the country take the advanced ones. For some, it presents a real challenge for their parents. For others, it’s another in a long list of activities. Bills shows little girls riding the subway, little boys maneuvering the streets of New York.
In the dance studios, they’re all business, making sure their moves are precise.
When auditions for “The Nutcracker” are announced, they size up the competition and see if there’s still a place for them. The process is interesting; the reinforcement is strong. But these kids know everyone isn’t going to get a part. They’re very matter of fact about auditions and delight when they hear the good news.
A parallel track shows how the teenagers find their place in the school. They also are jockeying for position. “On Pointe” shows them at different levels (one was told he wasn’t going to advance the previous season, studied over the break and gets another shot) and, on occasion, during their off hours. When they do a Halloween show, the students pop to life. One’s costume: What their teacher wears to school.
Young Kai, who has been around this block several times, wants one of the leading roles for children but doesn’t know if he’ll get it. When the announcements are made, you can practically feel his nerves. Will he get to play the prince? Or will someone else step out?
While “On Pointe” forgets some characters from episode to episode, it details the shared experience nicely. Ballet is not easy, we learn.
But nothing worthwhile is. “On Pointe” begins streaming Dec. 18 on Disney+.
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