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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that On Pointe is an inspiring six-part documentary series that follows kid and teen ballet students at the prestigious School of American Ballet. While it's appropriate for young kids, its length and documentary-style pacing will make it appeal more to older kids and tweens. The show does a great job in showcasing racially diverse male and female dancers, though as you might expect from anything ballet-related, there is no diversity in body type. The dancers wear skintight leotards throughout, but nothing is revealing. Some brand logos are present, since the documentary was shot in the real world, and the series is basically a long commercial for New York City Ballet and its School of American Ballet.
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What's the story?
ON POINTE is a docuseries that follows kid and teen students at the prestigious School of American Ballet, the feeder school for the New York City Ballet. It tells the stories of several younger kids at the school who are relatively new to dance, as well as the teenage students who are steps away from becoming professional dancers. Viewers get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to be a dancer at this hypercompetitive school, where elementary school-age kids ride the subway six days a week to take classes, and teenagers live apart from their parents in dorms to dance morning through night. Throughout the season, the show follows the students as they prepare to dance in the New York City Ballet's Nutcracker shows. The series teaches a bit about dance history, ballet terminology, and other background about the world of ballet. Mostly, the series follows a year of the dancers' ups and downs as they try to excel.
Is it any good?
On Pointe is what you'd get if you mixed the 2020 Netflix documentary phenom Cheer and the 2000 movie Center Stage, but completely family-friendly and less drama-filled. Though it's aimed at a general audience, kids, tweens, and teens who are into dance (or cheer, or gymnastics, etc.) will absolutely love this fantastic docuseries. It showcases kids of all ages who are super dedicated and passionate about ballet, and all of the sacrifices they and their families have to make to pursue their dreams. The dancers are really incredible role models in showing how to work hard to achieve a goal.
While the series does follow several individual dancers throughout the year, it strikes more of a formal documentary tone, rather than going into melodramatic reality-show territory. Each episode is about 45 minutes, so young ballet fans will probably not have the stamina to watch a complete episode. Otherwise, this series is entertaining and inspiring, and great for the whole family to watch together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the amount of perseverance the ballet dancers in On Pointe need to have. Do you think you'd be able to work so hard for so long to achieve a goal? What are some of your own goals?
These dancers show a lot of self-control: They have to stay focused on dance when they might want to be doing other things, and they have to perform well under a lot of pressure. Is there anything in your life that helps you practice self-control?
It's really inspiring to see these kids working hard toward a goal, but do you think they miss out on anything by being so intense about dance or living away from their families? Would you ever want to go to a dance school like this -- or be an Olympic athlete, or anything similar?
Do you think it's fair that only kids with certain kinds of feet, flexibility, and body type are allowed into the School of American Ballet? Why, or why not?
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