BREAKING POINTE: Ronnie Underwood Talks ‘Tempo Tantrums’ and Whether Things Have Changed For Him Since the Show Debuted
June 21, 2012 by Marisa Roffman
I’m by no means an expert in dance — aside from my SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE obsession, obviously — but watching these undeniably talented dancers push themselves to do what they love is inspiring. And the reality show aspect of it feels natural rather than seedy, which is always a bonus.
But that’s not to say there isn’t a little bit of shenanigans going on in tonight’s episode: rehearsal doesn’t go smoothly and on their downtime, the dancers decide to go out to unwind a little bit.
So how crazy will things get? I talked with dancer Ronnie Underwood about tonight’s episode, if things have changed for him since the show debuted, and more…
How have things been for you since the show debuted?
Ronnie Underwood: It’s been really well. Not too much has changed for me, personally. Nobody has shipped me off to London to model, so my life is pretty steady. Not that I wouldn’t go modeling in London. [Laughs]
That would be a pretty irresistible offer. Have you gotten any feedback about the show?
RU: Everybody I’ve talked to just loves the show. I was really impressed with the show and the way the producers put it all together. I was really proud of it. I thought it came off pretty well.
I agree. From what has aired so far, it seems like they are living up to what you guys said before the show premiered — they’re not artificially creating drama, they’re letting the natural drama of the ballet world shape the show.
RU: We didn’t change much for the cameras and after about two weeks, everybody got used to the cameras being there — probably after the first couple of days, really — and just did the normal stuff they were going to do.
Have you been surprised with anything you’ve seen on the show?
RU: I thought I was a little scrawnier than I looked. I was surprised that I was actually in good shape; I thought I was out of shape at the time. But hey I was doing okay, I guess. I wasn’t surprised by anything I’ve seen on the show — I was there for most of it. The next episode [that airs tonight] may be more surprising. [Laughs]
Yes, that one does look like it could be a bit interesting for you. What can you tease about what happens in “Tempo Tantrums”?
RU: From watching the previews — I’ve never seen the episodes previous to them running — it looks like I go to the club and I have a good time, which I always do. I go to the club and party. It was pretty fun for the cast to go out and party together. I get pretty wild at the club, and I’m sure everybody is going to see that tomorrow night.
Are you concerned about anyone seeing how wild you get at the club, whether it’s family, etc.?
RU: No, I told my mom as soon as they wanted to do the show, “They filmed, for the pilot, us out at the club, partying, so just be prepared for that.” My mom, my dad, everybody knows. I was a pretty free-spirited kid. There’s no cover-ups.
Well, that makes things less awkward!
RU: Yeah, I don’t need any awkward surprises.
And your sister comes into town in this episode, correct?
RU: Yeah, she comes into town to hang out with me. I love hanging out with my sister, she’s my best friend, hands down. It was fun to get her to come into town and party with me, because when I’m dancing, I don’t get to see my family ever. It’s good whenever those little pieces you can spend with your friends and family, you have to cherish those moments.
Was she a bit unnerved by the cameras? You guys had time to really adapt, but I can imagine it might be jarring for someone stepping into that situation for a short time.
RU: No, my sister wasn’t nervous about having the cameras there at all. She was a professional dancer and that’s how I got into ballet: she was in the studio and I was waiting on her all the time. So people in the arts and being a professional dancer, you’re used to people watching you and criticizing you about every move that you make. So it’s not that hard to get over it. My sister has nerves of steel, so they weren’t going to get to her.
The CW has teased you and Allison will be struggling in tonight’s episode as the rehearsal time winds down and problems arise. How bad did things actually get?
RU: It wasn’t bad, actually. With spacing, when we got out of the studio and on to the stage, the spacing was a little bit more cramped than what we had in the studio. So spacing for some of my stuff that I was doing changed, so that throws you off a little bit. But it wasn’t — I just finished my 11th year of being a ballet dancer, so I’ve been in a lot more precarious positions. Literally. [Laughs]
I would imagine! Have you gotten any feedback from Ballet West’s Adam Sklute about what he’s seen on the show? You were pretty vocal in the beginning about wanting that promotion when it came time for a new contract, but it didn’t end up happening.
RU: No, I haven’t heard from Adam since the end of the season, when our contracts ended. Adam knew as soon as I joined the company — before I joined the company — he knew what I wanted. I’m real expressive and don’t pull any punches. Business is business, so you have to lay your cards on the table. So he knew what I wanted before the show ever came along, we already had those conversations beforehand, way prior to me ever signing a contract to join Ballet West. He’s probably happy to have a break from all his dancers for a little bit. There’s a lot of artistic temperament, and if you have 50 people in a studio who are all artists — he’s probably happy to be overseas with his family.
Since you do want that promotion, did you feel any extra pressure performing this season?
RU: I didn’t feel any extra pressure, no. I mean, we’re such perfectionists on our own, being a ballet dancer, so I didn’t feel any added pressure. If I throw something out there, if I’m racing cars and you stick your nose underneath somebody to make a pass, you better stay committed. So once you open your mouth and say, I want to be a principal dancer, or I want to be promoted, you have to go with it. there’s no turning around and going backwards. Nobody wants to go backwards.
There was a fun moment earlier in the season when a few of the female dancers were talking about your clothes and about how much you flirt, etc. Were you surprised by how they were talking about you?
RU: No, I wasn’t surprised by it at all. A girl picked that unitard out that they were talking about, so I guess they may talk about my man titties every once in a while, but they’re not sagging or droopy, so I’m fine with it. All publicity is good publicity, so if they’re talking about it…you know what I mean?
That’s fair, because they seemed to be only talking about you…
RU: I think I have more to show than the other guys sometimes. I’m thankful to my mom and dad.
Well, and you also have a lot of outside interests. What are you up to during your break from dance?
RU: I’m on my lunch break, but I have to pack and I go to Florida with my sister. I’m working on my motorcycle, I’m working on some old cars and pickups. My sister and I are working that trucking company that’s based off of Oklahoma. Our company’s t-shirt was on the show when I got my tattoo; that’s my company, my sister and my company. When you have 30+ employees, I work nonstop, I work everyday, even if I don’t get paid.
It’s good that you’re able to use BREAKING POINTE to not only showcase yourself as a dancer, but your own interests, too.
RU: I don’t think very many ballet dancers have interests like I do outside of the studio, so I’m happy that people get to see there are professional dancers out there that have other interests than ballet. They don’t have to be in a pair of tights all the time or have their hair in a bun.
I know before the series started, you guys said you wouldn’t object to doing another season of the show. Now that you’ve seen a bit of the show, has your opinion changed at all? Or would you still want to let the cameras back in if The CW wants more?
RU: I would love to do another season of the show. I think it’s really good for the audience out there, for the public to see. Ballet is such an impressive art form and it needs to stay around here. For a while, it was fading off, but in the last few years, the dance craze has really caught on. Ballroom dancing is way different than ballet. Ballet is a whole other intensity, I feel, so I’m really excited the public gets to see it. I’d definitely do another season, because it’s exciting for me, with it being my 11th year as a professional dancer, having the camera there is something new to do and I love new stuff.
BREAKING POINTE airs Thursdays at 8 PM on The CW. Have you been watching?
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