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Q) You mentioned you've been dancing since age three, but what originally drew you to ballet?
A) When I was three years old, my mom put me into ballet and gymnastics. I think, according to her, that I just started to gravitate more towards ballet. I liked it better and I wanted to dance. So, she just kind of said, "Let's keep her in ballet." I just fell in love with it. At such a young age I was dedicated to it. When I was seven or eight years old I was going to school, getting out and then going straight to ballet. From the time I was young I just loved it.
Q) How did you find your way to Ballet West?
A) I quit ballet from age thirteen to about sixteen years old. When I decided to go back to ballet, which was around my Junior year of high school, it was only a year and a half away from when people start auditioning for ballet companies. My parents and I talked and we decided it was best for me to go to college. I went to Indiana University and out of college I started auditioning for companies. So many people told me, "You'll never get a job. It's too late." Most people start professional right out of high school, if not in high school these days. I auditioned every weekend in New York for four months. I got a job at Ballet West and I was really grateful. It was my very first audition of the whole audition process and I couldn't believe I got the job. When ever you audition, you have a resume. In ballet, there is a notion that if you are tall you couldn't get a job since you can't be tall and be a ballet dancer. That's what you are told as a kid - you couldn't be old and you couldn't be tall. Here I was, twenty-three years old (at the time) and 5'9. When I made my resume, I didn't lie about my age, but I lied about my height. I said I was either 5'7 and a half of 5'8. When I auditioned for Ballet West, Pamela Robinson-Harris (our ballet mistress) gave the class and she talked to me afterwards. She looked at me and said, "You're lying. I know you're not 5'8." I said, "Oh! You caught me! I'm 5'9! But, you know I have to do what I have to do." She said, "Oh, I get it." and just laughed it off. It was funny because I was trying to lie about being so tall.
Q) Were you nervous about being caught or did her laughter make you feel more comfortable about the issue?
A) No, it's just like any other art form. If you want to be an actress, model or anything in that area then they want a specific look and you're aware of that. I was not worried trying to cut an inch off my height. I'm so tall that when I get on pointe, I'm probably 6'1. I was trying to give myself a better chance, but she just laughed it off.
Q) Costar Katie Martin said it's hard for dancers to be welcomed into a new company. What was it like when you joined Ballet West?
A) When I first got there, I was turning twenty-four years old. I was older so the way I operated was a little bit more mature than if you're a teenager; however, I was just an apprentice. So, I struggled with that for a little while because I'm older, but at the same level as these young girls. That was hard on me, but I was determined to work really hard and catch up to people that were my age. It didn't take me long before I got promoted. It was a year ago. You don't know that on the show, but it was only a year ago that I got promoted. That's not normal either. Luckily, Adam [Sklute] sees something in that he sees is special, even though I was late to the game essentially. I'm very grateful for that and I think that's why viewers see me maybe as really harsh and eager. They just don't understand (I don't think) that when you start a professional career as late as I did you really are aware of the clock. You know you're not going to have as much time to achieve your goals as someone that is eighteen or nineteen years old. That's ten years lost. You're lucky if you can dance until you're forty years old. Sometimes it takes people ten years to do a principle role, but I was doing those after two years with the company. I think it's because I was so determined and I wasn't going to let anything stop that.
Q) How did the show "Breaking Pointe" find you?
A) BBC Worldwide Productions had been working on this project for two years. They are so passionate about getting ballet to the general public in a way that was more like a docu-series, but also a reality show. They didn't want it to be a two-hour special. They wanted it to be six episodes, at least. I know they auditioned a ton of companies in the United States. They narrowed it down to Ballet West and one other company. They decided they wanted to go with us because they liked us and our stories. Many of our dancers went to college or are in college now and that's something that is different. I think they liked the diversity in ages and they liked people's personal stories. I think they liked Adam, as well.
Q) You and Rex [Tilton] have such great chemistry. Is there something about your past that keeps the two of you from becoming romantic?
A) You are going to find out in the next few episodes really why I've been so hesitant to start a relationship with Rex. I have talked about my exboyfriend Jonathan and we were together for seven years. He is a doctor and he's very successful. We had planned on getting married and having kids, but our careers put an end to that. I chose to stick with ballet and he has an amazing, very intense career as a doctor. That was the main reason I couldn't commit to Rex. I was still hurting from that breakup. There is still an open wound. The camera couldn't have come at a better time for them, but a worse time for me because I wasn't expecting any of that when I signed the contract. It all happened during filming. I know I've said a few times "I'm being selfish right now and I need to focus on myself," and that people might see me as some crazy ballet dancer. Really, it's my personal life. Everything I knew was crumbling in front of me because I chose to stick with ballet and have a career. I think it's very important for women to have a career of their own and establish themselves before they get into marriage. That was something that I was struggling with and I just thought to myself, "If I'm going to lose this person and my personal life is going to go down the drain then I really need to be successful at what I do because that was the choice I made. I decided to put 102% of myself into my work and that's what you are seeing during the show.
Q) What is your current status with Rex?
A) I can't talk about that. You will see the outcome, which ever way it ends up, by the end of the season.
Q) Was there any part of your life off-limits to the camera?
A) I would have to say the first three weeks or four weeks I really didn't want to talk about my personal life. When you see me being standoffish to Rex that was a choice because I didn't want to be on camera discussing that. I wanted people to hear my story more of my work at Ballet West and less about my personal life; however, it just made people more intrigued as to why I was behaving that way. I kind of kicked myself in the ass by accident. Finally, I just realized that I decided to do this show and when they asked me to be a participant they wanted to hear my story and that meant my personal life and my professional life. Then, I was okay talking about it. I said, "Let's get this story out because it is a huge chapter in my life." What was going on in my personal life was effecting my work life and it needed to be explained that way. It took me a while to letting people in to the inner workings of Allison, but eventually I got there.
Q) What is a typical meal like for you before performing?
A) Salad isn't good because sometimes it gives you stomach aches. Before we perform, we try to have the same kind of meal that we know if we stick to it that we won't get sick in any way. I end up eating pasta before a show because I know it's ok for my stomach. Rex eats a burrito and Christiana really does eat that croissant sandwich. There is a preconceived notion that ballet dancers don't eat, but I just don't see how anyone could think that since we dance from ten in the morning to seven o'clock at night. With the amount of calories we burn we need that nourishment for brain power, too. It's just impossible to think that we don't eat. Hopefully, people will learn we are really healthy people and take care of ourselves. We preach that as teachers, too. We tell young kids to eat healthy because that's how you have a healthy body. We all eat a huge dinner an hour and a half to two hours before a performance because you can't dance on a huge full stomach. A lot of us have been taking FRX before the show for some extra energy. They are like a B-vitamin chew pack that gives you extra energy. We drink protein shakes during the show and we snack on a lot of nuts and crackers to have a bit of calories while we're dancing.
Q) Ronnie has several tattoos that we've seen. Are tattoos acceptable to the ballet world or is it no big deal because stage makeup is used to cover them?
A) Actually, a lot of us at Ballet West have tattoos and a lot of dancers everywhere do, too. Ronnie's tattoo behind his ear is a little hard to cover up, but he just covers them up with makeup. Christopher Ruud has tattoos everywhere. There are special things you can use to cover them so you can't see them from the stage because we're not allowed to show tattoos on stage.
Q) Who are your closest friends at Ballet West?
A) Katie [Critchlow] and I still live together. She is one of my best friends here, as is Christiana Bennett. Rex is my best friend here. I am close with Thomas [Mattingly]. We all hang out together all the time. We go to karaoke together, baseball games and hang out together. I'd have to say that my best female friends are Katie and Christiana and Rex is my best male friend.
Q) What do you think it is about "Breaking Pointe" that's really drawn in viewers?
A) Ballet has always been looked at as an untouchable art form to people in the audience. We really strive to be perfect all the time and it's our job to not show how hard it is. You watch us on stage barely breathing hard, but we can barely catch our breath. The minute we get off stage we are collapsing onto the ground, but you don't see that when we're on stage. It's amazing that this show is able to show the public the hard work we put into that. I think people like to see that. I think they like to learn the inner workings of what we do because it's been behind closed doors for so long. I also think they want to see if movies like Black Swan are real. I'm just grateful that people are watching and that they continue to watch because we are so passionate about what we do. All ballet companies are non-profit organizations so we operate on budgets that aren't very high. To have people interested in what we do and to have people come to the ballet means a lot to us.
Q) Where can people go online to learn more about you?
A) You can go to http://www.balletwest.org and that is the company's website. You can see what we're up to and the performances what we're doing. There is also a wonderful blog there that one of the dancers takes care of. I am also on Twitter at @AlliDeBona.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who has become of a supporter of you and the show?
A) If I could talk to every fan individual at this point I would love to do that. I don't think they know how important it is to us and how grateful we are for them to be so supportive of "Breaking Pointe." When we started out, we didn't know what to expect. All we wanted to do was share our story with the world and to see the young girls and boys and even adults getting into our show. I can't say thank you enough for giving us the opportunity to tell our story.
BREAKING POINTE Pictured: Allison DeBona. PHOTO: Erik Ostling/The CW ©2012 THE CW NETWORK, LLC.
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