Reality Check: 'Breaking Pointe's' Allison DeBona and Rex Tilton dish on dance


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No word yet on whether the CW will produce a second season of its summer reality series "Breaking Pointe," but one of its breakout stars, Chartiers Valley graduate Allison DeBona, said there are stories yet to tell.

Ms. DeBona, 28, a demi-soloist with Salt Lake City's Ballet West, was in town this week taking a break from a grueling spring of working her day job, plus shooting the behind-the-scenes show. She brought with her fellow company member Rex Tilton, subject of a season-long, will-they-or-won't-they storyline that may not be resolved by the end of Thursday's season finale.

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For the record, no one's talking. From Day 1, the show's producers have portrayed Mr. Tilton as sort of a lovestruck puppy whose affections for Ms. DeBona are unrequited. But that's not entirely true; they are very good friends trying to work through the aftermath of Ms. DeBona's painful breakup after seven years with another man.

"It was a strange, difficult time," said Ms. DeBona, who stands 5-feet-9 but looks shorter than on television (must be the pointe shoes). She and Mr. Tilton had just finished a long drive that began in Utah, so caffeine in a Bridgeville coffee shop seemed like a good idea.

"There is so much stuff you're not seeing. I've been friends with Allison for years," said Mr. Tilton, 24, a San Diego native who spent his 15th summer taking classes with the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet.

Both of the dancers' families were filmed attending Ballet West's final performances, which was broadcast Thursday. After four weeks of spotlighting rehearsals and giving the dancers some personal background, "Breaking Pointe" finally raised the curtain to show the company performing "Paquita," "Emeralds" and "Petite Morte."

For the most part, the dances were inspiring ... except for a mistake that Mr. Tilton said he would not be surprised to see one day on "The Soup," an E! clip show that revels in crazy reality show behavior and bloopers.

In this case, a line of male dancers raced upstage with huge swaths of silk. Not being able to locate the little glow-in-the-dark sticker marking the place he needed to grab the material, he missed his chance and was tripped up. Mr. Tilton executed a half-somersault to get back on his feet.

"I would have rolled into the audience," he said. "I didn't ruin the whole thing, but it could have been much worse."

Ms. DeBona has been portrayed as somewhat neurotic about rehearsing three important roles, at one point in Episode 4 asking the other dancers to let her jump to the front of the line at a costume fitting so she could get back to rehearsal.

What viewers did not know was that Ms. DeBona's partner for her first principal role, Michael Bearden, had been in Scotland for about a month during the first part of rehearsals. Or that another partner, Adrian Fry, was missing for two weeks. She had reason to be stressed.

"So here I am with all these amazing roles and for two weeks, no men. And I'm sitting on the floor at the back of the room, twiddling my thumbs."

Before the series began, neither could ever watch videos of their own dancing. But "Breaking Pointe" has taught Ms. DeBona, "Wow, that didn't look as bad as it felt."

Ms. DeBona is a fan of reality television, particularly "Jersey Shore" and "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," so it has come as no surprise that, on air, her own personal relationships have been shaped to reflect the more sensational aspects.

"I can't keep up with Twitter, but it's terrifying, reading what some people are saying about me," she said. "It's tough, but it comes with the territory.... People are saying I'm heartless, I'm selfish."

"People think I'm an idiot," Mr. Tilton added amiably.

From Ballet West and the show's standpoint, Ms. DeBona said, the fact that people are paying attention is what counts.

"The first thing we talked about [when Ballet West was approached about doing the show] was 'What can this do for ballet?' It's a dying art form. All ballet companies are nonprofit organizations. We dance for little money; we struggle to survive.

"We want people to come to the ballet. We're all dancing well, but we said, 'What else can we do for the company?' "

And if she's doesn't come across as sweetness and light, so be it. There's buzz for the company and the show.

"Amazing things are happening. That's why we're doing it. I will personally take the bullet to my ego over this."

Also in reality TV ...

• Pittsburgh's Stanley Boyd Palmieri got to live in the future, so to speak, on "Design Star" (HGTV, Tuesdays). The seven remaining contestants had to create party spaces based on randomly selected themes.

Mr. Palmieri's was "Futuristic." When the designers visited the prop-tastic "Modern Props" warehouse, which looked like the best decor shop ever, he found some great, metallic, space-agey chairs that the judges adored.

Fellow contestant Kris Swift described his theme (the 1970s) as bringing together "pure tragedy and pure brilliance." For him it was mostly the former, and he was eliminated.

Next up: kitchen designs, and two go home.

• Upping the ante for reality quote of the year was this gem, on "Dance Moms" (Lifetime, Tuesdays). One of the dancers was complaining about her bruised finger, which prompted Abby Lee Miller to reference Aron Ralston, whose horrific rock climbing accident was re-enacted in the film "127 Hours."

"Didn't some guy survive in some cliff that ..." she said, adding, "and he ate his arm? He's fine."

She choreographs a group dance for a "Starpower" competition that ends with most of the girls lying "dead" on the stage.

More promising is next week's first "clip" show, with highlights from past seasons and that fabulous Abby quote: "That's what happens when your mom's in the bar, having a drink."

• It's no surprise that each season, Syfy's makeup/special effects show, "Face Off," has a few contestants that are graduates of, or took classes at, Tom Savini's Special Make-up Effects Program at the Douglas Education Center in Monessen.

Season 3 debuts Aug. 21. Among the hopefuls are Alana Rose Schiro, 21, a makeup effects artist from California (graduated 2011), and Jason Milani, 25, a freelance special effects makeup artist from New York (class of 2008).

• Woodland Hills graduate Elise Wims, who finished third last season on Fox's "Hell's Kitchen," will be holding a cooking demonstration Monday at 3 p.m. at the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry on Hazelwood Avenue.

Non-pantry members are requested to bring a canned food item.

tvradio

Maria Sciullo: msciullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.


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