Allison DeBona is a Soloist with Ballet West of Salt Lake City, Utah and a featured cast member on The CW’s reality television series Breaking Pointe. By design, her role as the latter has catapulted her dancing and her life as a ballerina into public prominence. After witnessing declining ticket sales and slashed budgets at Ballet West, (as well as other companies world-wide) she readily participated in the reality series in hopes of bringing ballet to a more mainstream and modern audience. As such, she has successfully created a social media audience of more than ten thousand followers. (Yes, 10,000-four zeroes!) Among them, naturally, are thousands of aspiring dancers of every genre looking up to her, watching her, and wondering how they could be her. So, given how her goals meshed with those of our podcast, naturally we wanted to tell her story.
It may surprise some that Allison’s journey has not been typical for a dancer. She did not follow a path that led her through the classic training of a ballerina, landing her as an apprentice to a professional company in her teens. In fact, Allison actually quit dancing at an age that most see as the critical training years of an aspiring ballerina. Later she decided to pursue the college route before becoming an apprentice to Ballet West in her early 20s. Forthright and determined, Allison succeeded in getting a start with Ballet West and is now a soloist dancing great roles and great choreography.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she trained with The Parou Ballet Company under Debbie Parou, followed by the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet under Jean Gedeon. Allison then earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Ballet from Indiana University. Allison also spent one year with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Graduate Program.
She joined Ballet West in 2007 and was promoted to Demi-Soloist in 2011. Her repertoire includes the world premiere of Susan Shields’ Grand Synthesis; Michael Smuin’s The Tempest; Mark Morris’ Gong; Stanton Welch’s Madame Butterfly; Michel Fokine’s Polovetsian Dances; the world premiere of Peggy Dolkas’ “Yes, But How Did You Get There?”; the world premiere of Nicolo Fonte’s The Immeasurable Cadences Within; Adam Sklute’s newly conceived and produced Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty; John Butler’s Carmina Burana; Jiri Kylian’s Sinfonietta and Petite Mort; Nicolo Fonte’s Bolero; and the 2011 world premieres of Tom Mattingly’s Fall Into Loving Arms and Avichai Scher’s White Noise. Her Balanchine repertoire includes Violette’s “Pas de Deux” in Emeralds, Agon “Pas de Trois”, Prodigal Son, Serenade, Stars and Stripes, Chaconne, and The Four Temperaments.
Her role in the CWs Breaking Pointe has subjected her personally to judgement and criticism from not only the media but from her peers in the industry as well. Still, her determination to bring ballet to a wider audience remains.
In the August article ,When Dancers Speak: In Support of Breaking Pointe’s Allison DeBona in The Huffington Post, author Rainesford Alexandra asks the question, “Why is Breaking Pointe on TV? ” The article goes on to explain, “DeBona answers this question as well: “Ballet is struggling in the United States.” We can hide from this reality all day long, citing the mystery of ballet as part of its elusive appeal. Well, mystery doesn’t pay the bills to put productions onstage, nor does it pay the dancers, many of whom work second jobs to pay their rent after dancing upward of eight hours a day. The days of ballet flourishing as something removed, untouchable, and exclusive are no more. If we want to keep ballet, we have to own it and promote it in every possible outlet.” We agree.
The success of the television show has translated to success for ballet, bringing larger audiences for Ballet West at home and abroad. The popularity of the series can also be seen as the inspiration for other reality based productions about ballet companies around the world.
We thank Allison for her inspiration. Apprehensive and nervous, she was the first professional ballerina we asked to interview for our podcast. Her immediate “yes” was all the encouragement we needed to keep asking other professional dancers to tell us their stories. Her approachable demeanor has helped us continue our journey, working towards fulfilling our mission to inspire and inform all about the world of professional ballet.
Dancer Answer: Advice for Aspiring Young Dancers
Q: From Juliet in MN-What has been your biggest struggle in becoming a professional and how did you overcome it?
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