Bunheads

Maintaining a student-teacher bond in ballet requires a balancing act more difficult than any exercise on pointe. Built on a foundation of trust and understanding, dancers must feel comfortable enough to place their budding careers in the hands of their instructor, but not so at ease that boundaries are crossed and respect is lost. During this week’s episode of "Bunheads," Michelle learned that befriending students comes at a cost.

Whether it’s as simple as transferring their weight before a pirouette or as complicated as transitioning into a new phase of their career, dancers always need to be on their toes and ready for anything. In this week’s episode of "Bunheads," Michelle did just that, setting aside her apprehensions and assuming an unfamiliar role.

 

Recitals have their own awkward charm. The littlest dancers always look adorable; the older ones try so earnestly that with every variation’s successful coda the audience breathes a sigh of relief.

 

In ballet, there's an eight-letter word so powerful it makes even the most experienced dancers quake. (No, I’m not talking about fouettes!) Audition—it’s a loaded word that brings to mind numerical identities, a whispering panel and hundreds of other bunheads who all seem to have better feet and 180-degree turnout. Last night's episode of "Bunheads" showed that, although many dancers define an audition’s success by whether they get accepted, those who can see the whole picture know that getting in isn’t everything.

 

 In true ballet fashion, “Bunheads” owes a lot to the enduring power of fairy tales. A Broadway princess (Tony Award winner Sutton Foster) wakes up in a town called Paradise (a nice dash of magical thinking there) to find herself in the shelter of a ballet studio run by a fairy godmother—okay, actually godmother-in-law. The princess escapes from a Las Vegas past that separated her from ballet—her first love—to a kingdom of niceness and sincerity.

 

Most of this week’s Bunheads episode was spent following widow Michelle around town and wondering whether or not Fanny was serious about those Dalai Lama cocktail napkins for Hubbell’s memorial. But the show still managed to squeeze in some favorite ballet themes before the proverbial curtain came down.

 

Ballet fans have been looking forward to ABC Family's "Bunheads" for weeks now, since it advertises—from the title down—that it's all about ballet. But the first episode, at least, had a lot of plot exposition to get out of the way before digging into anything truly "bunhead"-y. A very quick summary: Onetime ballet dancer but current Las Vegas showgirl Michelle (Broadway star Sutton Foster, who is fantastic) is tired of performing in a feathered bikini but unable to get a "real" Broadway job.