A recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times about a new reality TV show featuring the Joffrey Ballet:
Chicago's internationally renowned Joffrey Ballet will be the focus of an unscripted TV series, tentatively titled ''First Position.''
The Joffrey's executive director, Christopher Clinton Conway, explained ''this all came up while we were out in Los Angeles with 'Cinderella,' '' for the recent West Coast performances of the ballet created by Sir Frederic Ashton.
Chicago's Joffrey Ballet dancers will soon be spotlighted in a reality TV show, "First Position."
An initial contact by a Joffrey board member led to the Joffrey joining forces with L.A.-based W/O Productions, which developed the idea for the show. According to Conway, the series will zero in on the Joffrey's trainee program, reportedly the largest such operation run by an American ballet troupe.
''It will be similar in feel to something like 'Project Runway,' and focus on our trainees, who are between 17 and 22 years of age,'' Conway said. ''They are not quite yet in the company, but have been dancing pretty much their whole lives.''
There will be weekly challenges, and ''part of the package will be to offer a contract [with the Joffrey] to the winner at the end.''
• Conway expects the competitors to provide great reality TV viewing, as ''our trainees have come to us from many different paths. ... There are great stories. One almost gave up dancing all together, and was going to go back and study psychology at Harvard. Another was going to head to the Stuttgart Ballet.
''The nice thing about our trainee program is that the dancers choose many different career paths. Some head to Broadway. Others do join ballet companies, and others go off to college and completely different kinds of lives.''
• The popularity of other TV dance competitions, such as ''So You Think You Can Dance'' and ''Dancing With the Stars'' have helped boost the ''First Position'' concept -- reportedly being shopped to cable outlets including MTV and Oxygen.
• As for Conway, he's excited about the Joffrey being given a showcase similar to its big-screen bow in Robert Altman's ''The Company.'' The 2003 Chicago-made movie, based on the Joffrey, starred Neve Campbell, Malcolm McDowell and a young James Franco.
Conway and the Joffrey's artistic director Ashley Wheater are confident the project won't be compared to some other reality fare out there, like ''Jersey Shore.''
''No,'' Conway laughed. ''There definitely will be no hot tubs up here in the [Joffrey] Tower!''
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