“Bunheads,” Season 1, Episode 4

By Debra Schreiber/Pittsburgh

Boo/Courtesy of Picktainment.com

“Bunheads” was back with an all-new episode this week, and perhaps the funniest episode to date.

Fanny was on a mission to get the studio in prime condition for the Joffrey auditions, which ended up being difficult when all of Michelle’s stuff (and some stuff that wasn’t hers but came with her partially furnished Vegas apartment) show up on a moving truck.

Boo’s mother was concerned about Boo’s feelings: she didn’t get the audition last year and was very upset by that. But Boo said she feels ready this season. Her mom actually bought her a “Better Luck Next Year!” cake before the audition. And then Boo’s one of Boo’s pointe shoes broke. Luckily, Sasha was bold enough to steal money from her mother’s purse to buy Boo a new pair…but of course played it off as though her father had bought them for her and she was just dumping them on Boo.

Fanny (right) and Michelle (left)/Courtesy of JustJaredJr.com

All did not seem to be going as planned for Fanny when she received an urgent fax notifying her that the audition would not be held in her studio (the floor wasn’t quite right). Fanny was highly upset; after all, she had worked with the summer program for 12 years. And the audition was moved to another part of California. The girls wanted to go but Fanny didn’t.

Meanwhile, Michelle was having her own audition nightmares. She decided to make it her mission to help Fanny and her floors. And she succeeded…well, thanks to Fanny, and they got Joffrey back!

Boo didn’t get the audition, but “she was seen,” which to Fanny was all that mattered.

SYTYCD, Season 9, Episode 7

By Debra Schreiber/Pittsburgh

Kenny Ortega/Courtesy of Seekingthetruthmjfans.com

Tonight it was time for the Top 20 to take the stage and compete for the viewers’ votes!

The opening number was a phenomenal piece – office workers and bosses using mug and desk props, among other things. An intense number for the beginning of the show, keeping the dancers in a small space – but their movements, even in that small space, expressed the high stress of the piece perfectly.

Then it was time to welcome the Top 20 as individuals – so great to see Detriot’s Will Thomas strut his stuff!

Mary Murphy, Nigel Lythgoe and Kenny Ortega were all on deck to judge this evening – Happy Birthday Mr. Lythgoe!

We’re voting for individuals this week, not couples.

What’s coming for next week? Two boys and two girls will be cut. The judges are making these decisions at the beginning stages.

First up were Witney and Chehon. Each couple had nine seconds to talk about themselves. What we learned: Witney is afraid of crickets. Chehon is bilingual and a dual citizen. They took on the Samba to “Jump.” Witney look like a Latin pop princess in her sparkly pink outfit. The couple’s movements were sharp.

“You are a star,” said Lythgoe to Witney, though he thought Chehon was a bit out of his style, and apparently, his feet.

During the commercial break we saw a preview for “Step Up: Revolution.” Join the Mob here and you could be in a music video!

Then we had Tiffany who has baby hands, and George and he hates the outside, together for a Sonya routine. The lines and the movements were beautiful, expressing great emotions for people so young.

“You both surrendered to this choreography,” said Murphy. “You were living it.”

We then met Janaya, who wants to meet Shamoo and is afraid of Chucky, and Brandon, who is from Kansas City and very allergic to animals. They would work together to build an emotional hip hop routine by Tabitha and Napoleon. AND OMG TABITHA IS PREGGERS!

Janaya and Brandon’s routine required a lot of partner work and you could sense the level of trust that existed between the two contestants.

Alexa was up next. She loves red lipstick. Daniel, her partner, is Australian. VERY Australian. They had a jazz routine. And speaking of partnering and props…and tight red suits…looked like Alexa’s diet of sprinkles can’t be that unhealthy. Looked tricky but the couple pulled it off. Lythoe wanted more passion.

Next: Amber. She loves bunnies and used to run track. Nick. He just took 23 credits and said it was crazy “don’t do it.” They were set up with the Viennese Waltz. Did they get it together in time?

Murphy thought it was dreamy – and Amber pulled it off in heels.

“So lovely,” said Ortega.

However, the Viennese Waltz, like the Disco, rarely does well with fans of the show.

Courtesy of Homorazzi.com

Remember Amelia from the auditions? Her dad is a tattoo artist. Partner Will (YAY) loves orange…but apparently not short interviews. Character Pop was the style assigned to these colorful dancers and the audience loved it.

Janelle can cook anything. Dareian can imitate Donald Duck. They had to tackle African Jazz. Very fast, totally in sync, and, as Tyra Banks would say, “Fierce!”

“It was like a jungle dance-off!” Murphy said. She was proud of Janelle for tackling the new styles (Janelle is a belly dancer).

A special reminder: National Dance Day is July 28. Please visit fox.com/dance for more info!

                Meet Eliana: she hates raisins. And Cyrus: he has gauges. Together: Broadway. “Run and tell that!”

“She just gets down!” said Murphy of Eliana. Ortega felt as though he were at a Broadway show.

“You gave it your heart and soul, and you kicked it to the back wall,” he said. Lythgoe believes she has set the bar for the other girls.

We met Audrey – she loves Taylor Lautner – and Matthew – he loves hiking. And then what we love – a Titanic routine by Travis Wall to “Enchanted Melody.”

Last of the night were Lindsay, who hates tomatoes (me too), and “karate kid” Cole who is a cliché, with a fiery Paso Double to “Unstoppable.” Very passionate and highly dramatic – would be a perfect ten on “Dancing with the Stars.” It was Lythgoe’s favorite Paso Double, from Cole out of the guys on the show – ever.

Time to vote!

“Breaking Pointe,” Season 1, Episode 6 – Season Finale

By Debra Schreiber/Pittsburgh

Courtesy of Tvlistings.zap2it.com

We’ve seen the tears, the falls, the relationships, the rejections and the meltdowns. It’s all come down to this – the season finale of “Breaking Pointe.”

This is the week before closing night and the end of the season. Adam is already looking to next year next week in New York, where he will search for new talent to bring to Ballet West.

The dancers are focusing on themselves and their upcoming performances. There is a review of their show from opening night in the paper.

Christiana’s solo is described as “spell-binding” and the company gets a good review. Allison revealed she doesn’t usually read them. Beckanne said dancers get upset if they’re not mentioned in the papers.

Courtesy of Articles.Philly.com

Beckanne knows she has limited time with Katie, who will be going to Ohio. Beckanne wants to throw a party.

“No crying,” Katie said. “The hard goodbyes, they’re coming.”

It was time for Katie to clean out her locker. She said she feels as though, over the past three years, she has failed by not getting Adam to see her.

Rex was still down about his fall in “Petite Mort.” He blames his lack of focus on his tenuous relationship of Allison, who wasn’t there for him after the show even though he is always there for her. The guys said they think it’s time to move on. Rex is determined to be flawless for closing night.

The dancers are in and out of the studio and the recital hall. It’s intense. Beckanne is still stepping in for another dancer – she’s danced in every show. Katie comes to watch her perform on closing night.

Christiana’s partner is sick.

“I always want to perform,” she said. “I’ve worked really hard and I don’t want to completely lose out on closing night.” Adam decided to have her dance on closing night with a new partner.

“Here I go, just trying to perform the best I can,” Christiana said. She is worried about the younger generation “nipping” at her heels.

“I’m so excited, I can’t wait to hit it one more time, and I’m said that it’s going away,” Ronnie said. “You’re giving it everything you’ve got…I want it every day.”

And just like that, it was over.

“We made it, and I was so proud of everyone…our performances, they were wonderful,” Christiana said.

“I was really happy with how the whole run of this show turned out. I’m going to miss it know that it’s over,” Adam said.

“We get to let our hair down and celebrate,” another dancer added.

Ballet West went to hit the town. Allison left. Rex chased.

He decided it was time for a chat in the morning. Allison said she will not change, that she cannot be the person he wants her to be.

“I came to tell you that I don’t want to hang out with you,” Rex said. It looks like AlliRex is over…or is it? The ending shot was her going to visit him.

And so is Katie’s time.

Courtesy of Entertainista.com

Her friends threw her an excellent going away party, complete with an incredibly sexual toast from Ronnie.

The next day Ronald took her to the airport.

“I’m not good at saying goodbye,” Katie said. “I kind of feel like I wasn’t good enough and that’s why we have to separate,” said Katie.

“Katie’s my first true love. It’s a rough situation,” Ronald said. “She truly deserves the best things.”

Were you crying during Ronald’s speech? We know we were.

 

SYTYCD, Season 9, Episode 6

By Debra Schreiber/Pittsburgh

America…Meet your Top 20!

Courtesy of Poptower.com

The Ladies:

Alexa Anderson

Amber Jackson

Amelia Lowe

Audrey Case

Eliana Girard

Janaya French

Janelle Issis

Lindsay Arnold

Tiffany Maher

Witney Carson

The Gentlemen:

Brandon Mitchell

Chehon Wespi-Tschopp

Cole Horibe

Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer

Daniel Baker

Dareian Kujawa

George Lawrence II

Matthew Kazmierczak

Nick Bloxsom-Carter

Will Thomas

Let the competition begin.

Who are you rooting for this season and why? Let us know in the comments below!

“Breaking Pointe,” Season 1, Episode 3

By Debra Schreiber/Pittsburgh

Tonight on the CW’s “Breaking Pointe” it was drama as usual: the ugly side of ballet, “the side nobody ever sees” the tension, the stress and drive for perfection, and, of course, the romantic problems. And this all unfolded during rehearsals for Ballet West’s upcoming performances.

This week dancers were for parts in “Paquita” and everyone wanted the leads. Adam brought in Elena Kunikova, a “Paquita” veteran, to get them to push for perfection. Rex was extremely stressed about getting a lead.

“His (Rex’s) biggest drawback is that he’s incredibly insecure,” said Adam. He put Katherine and Christiana up for the female lead. Then it was Beckanne against Allison for a role. Everyone wants to be first cast.

“For a dancer, a leading role is what they live for…they’re all trying to be the best…they can be,” Adam said.

But Ronnie wasn’t worried – he was going to hang out with his sister and get his tattoo touched up. He opened up a little bit about his family and childhood. He was really into racing as a kid; his father is very supportive of his dance career.

Adam went back to make his decisions.

Katherine and Ronnie were chosen for the principal lead, first cast. Christiana and Rex, second. Beckanne, first cast, lead role. Allison seemed overwhelmed: she is in all three ballets for the season. Adam isn’t concerned – he wants her on stage opening night and knows she can do it. Elena’s advice? “Just dance.”

 

Beckanne/Courtesy of Blog.zap2it.com

 

Beckanne worried about her youth. She is only 19, way younger than the principal dancers in the company, and her friends are in the corps. The older girls don’t seem to really accept her into their group.

While the girls were out, they touched on body image issues. They believe that no one in the company could possibly anorexic. With all the calories they burn they eat multiple meals per day; they burn thousands of calories during a show. Good to hear. Body images were also brought up in the season premiere of ABC Family’s “Bunheads.” Then sexuality: Thomas, 24, is the only gay dancer at Ballet West. The Allison and the other Katie decide to take him out to find a guy, and they succeeded.

Then back to business. Rehearsals for “Paquita”  started. Allison got more and more frustrated with Adam. She said she feels as though he’s rushing her to perform all of these ballets. Beckanne thinks it’s easy.

“Beckanne is incredibly gifted…she is learning very well,” Elena said.

Leave it to Rex to bring Allison’s spirits up – and cook her dinner. Then (big surprise) we’re back to her not wanting a committed relationship.

So where’s Katie of Katie and Ronald? Hanging out with Beckanne. And of course they’re eating too.

“Dance Magazine” wants to do an article on Beckanne as a rising star in the dance world. Christiana did not seem pleased.

Christiana/Courtesy of Snakkle.com

The dancers relaxed in the hot springs and had a mud war after a long week of rehearsal. They know that next week will be just as tough.  Dancing in the studio is one thing. Dancing on stage with props is another.

Watch full episodes for free online and make sure to tune in next Thursday at 8/9c.

SYTYCD Season 9, Episode 4

By Debra Schreiber/Pittsburgh

This week the “So You Think You Can Dance” auditions took off in Salt Lake City.

Host Cat Deely and judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy were joined this time by Adam Shankman.

Courtesy of Buffy.wikia.com

The rules?

No booty-shaking.

No self-worship.

No reaching.

Shankman demonstrated.

Salt Lake City auditions have always been fantastic, and this round did not disappoint.

Up first was Witney Carson, 18. Utah may be cold; Carson brought the heat and the talent with her cha-cha and tango.

“When it comes to dancing, I like being a woman,” she said of her sensual and confidant dancing.

That confidence paid off. Carson received the first standing o of the night, a comparison to Anya Garnis, the first ticket on the hot tamale train this season, and a ticket to Vegas.

Next on the stage was another underground dance style: alien space dance. This type of dance was inspired to Lynn, 33, from Pleiades and her spirit guides. She used to be an aerospace engineer but wanted to find herself, and encouraged the audience to learn that they can always start over no matter their age.

Then Deanna took over the stage with absolute grace.

“I just loved every single second of that,” Murphy said. Deanna’s performance was absolutely stunning on stage: beautiful lines, expression, transitions and “wisdom” according to Shankman. She was on her way to Vegas.

Body paint? Life cycle of the male praying mantis? Just one of the outrageous auditions of the day. Gene Lonardo, 22, showed everyone in the audience what it was like to live and die as this insect. Weird? Yes. Talented? Yes. Perfect from choreographer Sonya Tayeh? Yes. Ticket? Yes.

Lindsay Arnold, 18 was up next with her jazz, contemporary and ballroom training to impress the judges.

“I thought you were absolutely fabulous,” said Lythgoe, acknowledging both her performance and technical skills. Murphy said Arnold reminds her of Julianne Hough.

After an endless amount of ballroom came krumping from a little blonde girl.  Mariah Spears, 18, rocked the house with her powerful moves.

“F****** krumping!” Shamkman exclaimed. “So, so that was from all of your rough time on the streets I’m assuming…it says you like to ride horses,” he said, glancing at her form. “ I don’t know how you do what you just did. You blew my mind.” Spears was sent to the choreography round and later, Vegas.

Last up on day one was Murphy Yang, 22, who gave up everything for dance. His parents did not support his dance career and disowned him. But he had his girlfriend. He refused to give up and wants to prove that dance was the right choice by being on the show.

“Murphy Yang, you are an entertainer,” Lythgoe said. The judges were not sure about his technique and sent him to wait for the choreography round where he was cut.

Dareian was feeling confident and excited about his audition. He had a rough childhood and says dance lifted him out of his experience. He definitely lifted the judges spirits on day two.

“You’re just joy out there,” Murphy said, though she agreed with Lythgoe that he needs to work on his feet. He’ll have to work on those feet in Vegas.

Next on stage were playboy/dancer Johnny and his partner Whitney. The pair have been dancing together for just eight months. Even with all of Johnny’s relationship courses, the two lacked chemistry. They were sent to the choreography round. It was a no to both.

Several dancers at the audition weren’t strangers: they had auditioned for the show before and been cut in Vegas. Several of them got return tickets. Would season seven and now season nine auditioner Adrian Lee, 22, be so lucky? Well, he’s on his way back to Vegas; but will he make it past the grueling week and into the top 20?

Dancer Rachel Applehans was hoping to make Lythgoe uncomfortable. Dressed in a lingerie top and rolling around like a stripper…that wouldn’t be hard to do.

“I think that if some things were a little different in my life I’ve move to Salt Lake City,” joked Shankman.

“A little too much burlesque for me and not enough jazz,” said Lythgoe. Applehans was sent to choreography and later to Vegas.

Last for the auditions: Leroy Martinez. Slightly reminiscent of Allan “Big Poppa” Frias.

“You’re f***** awesome!” Shankman swore.

“You are an absolute joy. You’re the kind of person…we want to root for you,” said Murphy. She and Nythgoe agreed that he would not be a contender on the show, but they sent him to choreography anyways – not to Vegas.

 

Courtesy of Reviewstl.com

This was the last round of auditions before the ticketed dancers fly to Sin City for the fearsome Vegas week, where they will be competing for one of the coveted top 20 spots.

“Bunheads” Season 1, Episode 1

By Debra Schreiber/Pittsburgh

Courtesy of ABCFamily.go.com

ABC Family’s new series “Bunheads” premiered on Monday, June 6.

The show, from executive producer Amy Sherman (“Gilmore Girls”), follows Vegas showgirl Michelle (Sutton Foster) from Sin City to a small town (called Paradise), where there is apparently no movie theatre, for her new husband. But there is a dance studio.

The studio is owned by her mother-in-law Fanny (Kelly Bishop) and home to bunheads. What exactly IS a bunhead?

“Anyone who devotes their life to dance,” said Emma Dumont, who plays Melanie Segal on the show.

“Just someone who … ballet consumes them,” added Bailey Buntain, who plays Ginny Thompson.

“Just kind of an obsessed ballerina,” agreed Kaitlyn Jenkins, “Bettina ‘Boo’ Jordon.”

(Watch the interview HERE)

And then there’s the obvious: a ballerina. Ballerinas wear buns.

But Vegas showgirls wear glitz outfits with big feathers.

The costumes in the opening scene, when Michelle was still in Vegas, were brilliant.

Courtesy of Insideetv.ew.com

As the show opens, she loves her job, but hates that topless girls who follow her act, saying that it’s a terrible message to the girls of America, “Hey girls, forget about actually learning to dance, just take your top off and stand there.”

After the show Michelle tells her BFF that it sounds like she’d be leaving her Vegas job soon for a role in “Chicago.” Then love steps in. Or, rather, a present-toting, flower-wielding admirer who appears once a month to court Michelle. We are led to assume that this has been happening for an entire year.  “Stalker” was probably an adept title for Mr. Hubbell. Michelle quickly ditches him. Quick time lapse to the a.m. and then, as Michelle put it, “show time.”

The “Chicago” dream came to a quick end (a.k.a. a “no” the first time the director laid eyes on her). Back to a run-down apartment Michelle went. Back to the Vegas show. And back was Hubbell, this time with jewelry and another dinner invitation. This time, Michelle went.

During dinner, Hubbell proposed, prompting a humorous no from Michelle… followed by a very drunk yes. Then, hello Paradise, and hello mother-in-law who was trained by Balanchine and runs a ballet studio that looks to have been converted from a barn in her back yard.

At the studio, Michelle meets several of the bunheads. Only the first episode and we’re facing body image and dieting issues for ballerinas. Though bunhead Sasha is thin, the others girls are a tad more shapely, with one constantly complaining that her breasts are simply too big.

“But none of that means you shouldn’t try,” Mother tells a sad, “big-boned” Boo.

Mother is also on the hunt for a missing tutu. If not found, “The Nutcracker” won’t have a Clara. She is preparing her students for a visit from the head of the Joffrey Ballet School as well. And she has to handle Michelle joining her and Hubbell in their home.

Mother provides a less than warm welcome (though she does offer to through Michelle a wedding party) and neither does anyone else in town, especially a sales associate from Sparkle who claims that Hubbell was the only man she ever loved. Michelle and Mother eventually warm up to one another in a sort of “Gilmore Girls” mother/daughter relationship spin.

Courtesy of Poptower.com

However, Michelle doesn’t love Hubbell. And she tells him at their party. He seems to think she will grow to love him. I think he loves her because she reminds him of his mother.

But will we get to see their relationship blossom? Find out next Monday at 9/8c.

Watch “Bunheads” anytime on ABCFamily.com.

Breaking Pointe, Season 1, Episode 2

By Debra Schreiber/Pittsburgh

After the dramatic premiere of “Breaking Pointe” last week, where dancers were on edge about contracts, what could possibly happen this week?

Plenty.

Adam wants his company, Ballet West, to be at the top, and that could depend on who stays or goes.

In this episode, the time arrived for dancers to accept or reject their new contracts.

Ronnie had still had not signed his contract. He went to dancers in the company for advice: they urged him to accept. Ronnie said he feels as though he has paid his dues and deserves the principal position. The girls didn’t seem to want him to go – they like his abs.

Ronnie and Beckanne/Courtesy of sheknows.com

We did get to see the guys let loose at some sports management treatment and Rex and Ronald relax in San Francisco with their family. Ronald’s family loves Katie, whose contract was not renewed, but thinks it would be smart for Ronald to keep his contract.

Romance, flirtation, drama, all were heavy in the air. And so was the stress of rehearsing for the ominous spring program, mentioned but not really paid attention to in the first episode. The company will perform three ballets for the program.

“Petite Mort” is one of these ballets. It’s modern, it’s sexy, and it involves swords, which Ronnie said he thinks represent penises.

The love stories in the ballet must be believable.

Christiana’s husband is also a dancer at Ballet West. She thinks it’s “sweet” when he gets jealous. She believes that all dance partners must have some level of intimacy.

Allison, again, distracted one of Rex’s rehearsals; he remains hopelessly confused about their relationship.

Rex and Allison/Courtesy of ontheritztumblr.com

Allison spoke to fellow female dancers after rehearsal. Some seemed to think that dating someone outside the ballet world gives a “fresh perspective.” But Allison hasn’t seen that. Her partner of seven years believed Allison loved ballet more than him. Perhaps that’s why Allison keeps Rex around.

Katie, back from Idaho where she auditioned for the Idaho Ballet and was offered an apprenticeship, felt horribly uncomfortable at rehearsal. Even though she was let go, she still has several months left with the company. She said she still secretly wishes Adam would ask her back.

“The thought of leaving just kills me,” she said, crying.

Sometimes long, drawn-out decisions are the most difficult.

In the end, Ronald renewed his contract.

“Not matter what, I’m going to be with you,” Ronald assured a scared Katie. She seemed understanding: dance careers are hard to start and hard to keep.

Next week : who will get the leads?

Vote for Pittsburgh’s Hines Ward

By Debra Schreiber/Pittsburgh

Do you love “Dancing with the Stars”?

How about Pittsburgh Steelers’ Hines Ward?

Hines Ward/Courtesy of Baltimoresportsreport.com

Then don’t miss your chance to vote for Ward to be on “Dancing with the Stars” – the all-star season!

Ward first made his dancing debut on season 12 of the widely popular competition show, and brought the Mirror Ball Trophy home to Pittsburgh with partner Kym Johnson.

Representing Steeler Nation with black and gold on "Dancing with the Stars"/Courtesy of Behindthesteelcurtain.com

“The fans are the reason I won the Mirror Ball trophy, so, for me, if time permits and it works out with my schedule, it would be something I’d strongly consider if the fans want me to be on the show again,” Ward was quoting as saying on WTAE.com.

Vote here!

Ward and Johnson dance the samba on “Dancing with the Stars.” Please note that voting for this particular season is closed. Please vote for Ward to join the all-star season cast by following the link above.