Chalk it up to the success of the 2010 Natalie Portman film "Black Swan," but ballet dancers are popping up everywhere on TV screens these days. And many of the most talented twirlers are young stars who are just getting their start. Both real and fictional, male and female, here are some of prime time's hottest ballerinas.
Kaitlyn Jenkins from 'Bunheads'
The new ABC Family series "Bunheads" tells the tale of a Vegas showgirl who uproots her life to marry a man she barely knows and move with him to his beachfront home. When he unexpectedly dies, she's left to juggle the demands of becoming the owner of his house. Matters are complicated by the fact that she lives with her mother-in-law, Fanny, who runs a dance studio on the grounds.
Four of Fanny's students are featured on the show - all clearly skilled dancers and mostly newcomers to the TV scene. But Kaitlyn Jenkins, Bailey Buntain, Emma Dumont and Julia Goldani Telles are soon to be big stars.
But Jenkins is the real stand out, playing Bettina "Boo." Her character struggles because she has a passion for ballet but doesn't have a typical, willowy dancers body. In real life, ballet is in Jenkins' blood. Her mother studied at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York before becoming turning pro and working at the Paciﬁc Northwest Ballet and the Los Angeles Ballet.
While Jenkins decided to go the Music and Theatre route when she got accepted to the Orange County High School of the Arts in Santa Ana, California, she still studied classical dance at the same time. The young actress has already booked over 20 acting gigs on television, in movies and short films. But she's also performed at the American Ballet Theatre and Kaatsbaan in New York, the Boston Ballet and The Jillana School in San Diego, California.
Beckanne Sisk from 'Breaking Pointe'
While Jenkins plays an aspiring ballet dancer on a scripted series, Beckanne Sisk is living the dream. The 19-year-old ballerina not only holds down a full-time job dancing, she's one of the stars of the CW reality show "Breaking Pointe."
The young dancer from Longview, Texas, is making quite a splash at the Salt Lake City Ballet Company, Ballet West. And it's no surprise that she started donning a tutu when she was just five years old. At 13, she earned a full scholarship to The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia. She's received countless honors for her skills, including the Jerome Robbins Scholarship Award in 2007.
And even though she isn't yet a prima ballerina, there's no doubt that everyone believes the demi-soloist is on her way to a stellar career. In the meantime, the featured dancer will have to deal with the politics of the rehearsal studio - not quite fitting in with the other newcomers but not yet accepted by the more experienced talent with whom she frequently finds herself paired.
Chehon Wespi-Tschopp from 'So You Think You Can Dance'
Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, the 23-year-old originally from Chicago, Illinois, wowed the judges during the Vegas Week auditions on "So You Think You Can Dance," earning a standing ovation from Mary Murphy and Adam Shankman.
It makes sense. Wespi-Tschopp has been training since he was 13 years old. A year later he was accepted into the prestigious The Royal Ballet School, London. And he earned his professional stripes dancing for troops like the Los Angeles Ballet and shining in the national tour of legendary choreographer Twyla Tharp's "Come Fly Away."
Yet this high jumping ballet dancer, admitted he was jealous of the other contestants' contemporary styles. Odds are he'll go forward in the competition and get to realize his wish to break out of the ballet mindset. He just wants to be himself and enjoy how he moves.
Watch "Bunheads" on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. Central on ABC Family. Follow the action on "So You Think You Can Dance" when it airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. Central on FOX. And see "Breaking Pointe" each Thursday at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. Central on the CW.
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