By Kate Ward
Updated November 30, 2010 at 12:00 PM EST
Tatiana Beller/PR Photos; Niko Tavernise

Image Credit: Tatiana Beller/PR Photos; Niko TaverniseOkay, I know, I know. But bear with me here: Both surround beautiful things that can cause bodily harm (Twilight: vampires; ballet: pointe shoes), both involve glitter (Twilight: sparkly vampires!; ballet: sparkly costumes!), both involve forbidden love (Twilight: between vampires and humans; ballet: between ballerinas and Hostess products), and both are enjoying their moment in the spotlight. That’s right: Ballet is so hot right now. Or, I should say, the dark underbelly of the ballet world is so hot right now.

Let’s run it down: For months now, chatter has surrounded Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, a ballet thriller about the art form’s dangerously competitive nature that has ignited Oscar talk for star Natalie Portman. Then a pack of black leotard-clad ballerinas toasted the a-hole that is Kanye West in his “Runaway” video. Furthermore, New York City Ballet principal Jenifer Ringer made headlines yesterday after The New York Times‘ Alastair Macaulay said the dancer “looked as if she’d eaten one sugar plum too many” in his review of the company’s Nutcracker. (Dude, as a writer, I love me my puns, but that was way harsh, Tai.) And finally, news broke today that Chloë Moretz, Jackie Earle Haley, and Bailee Madison have joined Kristen Bell in Dance of the Mirlitons, a film about a curvy ballerina with a stage mom (Bell) who attempts to make it in the tough business. (Producer Daniel Dubiecki’s rep confirms The Hollywood Reporter‘s report with EW; Madison will play the ballerina, Moretz will play the class’ ace pupil, and Haley will play a sadistic Russian ballet teacher in the film, which will be helmed by Evan Greenberg.)

And yet, I’m conflicted about ballet’s trendy, dark turn in pop-culture: I love the romantic mood surrounding dance films like The Turning Pointe, and I love Center Stage‘s silly spin on the art (though, admittedly, even that frivolous film addressed eating disorders). But as a former ballerina, I’m also all too aware of the pain and suffering attached to dance. I’m happy to see it represented for what it is: A fairly painful art form that involves plenty of blood and gumption. (Not to say that Black Swan is 100 percent realistic or that youngsters should flock to the theaters to see the very R-rated film.) It’s important that the young folk realize the dangers of dance before becoming seduced by the glitter and glitz. (See? Like Bella! I know… I hate myself now too.)

What about you, PopWatchers? Do you like your ballet dark, or with plenty of cream and sugar(plums)?

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