An elite ballet academy, ambitious young dancers, intrigues, love affairs, an assassination attempt and a murder: Tiny Pretty Things, a 10-episode series that premiered internationally on Netflix on 14 December 2020, is based on the book by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. It is set in the world of an elite ballet academy and charts the rise and fall of young dancers, each standing on the verge of greatness or ruin. As Chicago’s only elite dance school, the renowned Archer School of Ballet attracts talented young dancers with soaring dreams: rich and poor, from north and south, well-educated and uneducated. Yet they all share a rare talent and a passion for dance, … and when it comes to their dreams, they have no Plan B.
25 FACTS ABOUT TINY PRETTY THINGS
Tiny Pretty Things was shot in Toronto (Canada) and Chicago.
The dancer’s rehearsals took place at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto.
The thriller series opens with a dancing scene: Cassie Shore, a beautiful ballet student, is dancing on the roof terrace of the ballet academy, while her co-students are having a party at the back of the terrace. A tall slim person wearing a white hoodie approaches Cassie. She knows the person and begins to talk. She steps back and all of a sudden, the mysterious person pushes her off the top of the four-storey building. A few seconds later, Cassie lies on the street, unconscious, but miraculously survives.
Kylie Jefferson plays Neveah, the rebel with raw talent and fierce determination who looks to rise above her roots and find a future in the world of ballet. She has the greatest opportunity of her life when she is admitted as a last-minute replacement for Cassie Shore at the Archer School of Ballet.
In a rehearsal scene with June, Kylie says: “In ballet, you can be as strong as a linebacker, with the endurance of a marathon runner and the heart of a champion rower. But there’s one thing you’ve got that no one else can touch, and that’s your flexibility. You’re born with it, your God-given gift of limber ligaments and tendons, but whatever you have is never enough. So you’re at war with yourself, battling your body’s desire to curl back up. You break yourself trying to bend yourself. (…) But you learn. You do. You find the perfect torture to get results without busting up the machine that got you this far.”
Kylie Marie Jefferson is a professional ballet dancer who attended the Debbie Allen Dance Company in Los Angeles. She was the youngest dancer to be admitted at the dance company: she was only six when she passed the test. Kylie starred in various music videos and in the Netflix documentary film Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. In one of her latest Instagram posts, she describes her character Neveah as follows: “She put her mind on it, then she put her grind on it.” With the international launch of Tiny Pretty Things, Kylie’s number of Instagram followers rose from 5500 to 58’600 in eight days.
Casimere Jollette plays Bette, a ruthless and ambitious music box ballerina. She’s rich but not entitled, works harder than anyone else – due in part to spending her life playing second fiddle to her older sister Delia, a famous ballet dancer. She hates Neveah because of her talent and calls her “petit rat” (little rat). The French use this expression for a young pupil at the School of Dance of the Paris Opera who takes lessons and performs in ballet productions. Bette is always searching for drugs to dull the pain of training on a fractured foot.
Casimere Jollette was born in Chicago in 1996. She’s a professional ballet dancer, an actress and a model. She starred in Dirty John and F.R.E.D.I. (2018) as well as in Tom Petty’s video Leave Virginia Alone. Chanel is her favourite beauty brand. With the international launch of Tiny Pretty Things, Casimere’s number of Instagram followers rose from 41’300 to 95’400 in eight days. On Youtube, you can see her dancing in various videos.
Daniela Norman plays June, a naive British dancer raised by a strict Asian businesswoman who never shows any affection and who criticizes her daugther for not being good enough. The Archer School of Ballet is the only place June feels she belongs to. When her mother orders her to give up ballet and to go back to New York to attend a college-preparatory school, June files for a declaration of emancipation.
Daniela Norman is a British ballet dancer and actress. She danced with the English National Ballet in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Le Corsaire, The Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, The Dream, La Fille Mal Gardée, and Don Quixote. She also was a member of the Ensemble in the 2018 film version of An American in Paris: The Musical. Daniela loves her miniature dachshund named Luna and often posts pictures of her on Instagram. With the international launch of Tiny Pretty Things, Daniela’s number of Instagram followers rose from 3737 to 30’700 in just eight days.
Michael Hsu Rosen plays Nabil, a Muslim student with the swagger of Baryshnikov and the cold eyes of a potential killer. This new recruit, who is Cassie’s boyfriend, is worldly, strange, and has a wicked technique. Born in Malaysia before moving to Paris, Nabil, who speaks English with a fake French accent, is one of the main suspects.
Michael Hsu Rosen is an actor, dancer and singer who grew up in Manhattan. He attended the School of American Ballet and later Yale university. He appeared in Broadway shows like West Side Story, On The Town and Torch Song. He also appeared in Monsterland and Jessica Jones. With the international launch of Tiny Pretty Things, Michael’s number of Instagram followers rose from 4039 to 25’900 in just eight days.
Brennan Clost plays Shane. Stacked and fiery, from a small town, he grew up tormented for loving dance, and has become a hot-headed scrapper – and his family’s greatest hope. He’s homosexual and in love with his roommate Oren. He makes friends with Neveah and helps her to overcome the first difficulties at the ballet school and to get reunited with her mother.
Brennan Clost is a 26-year-old Canadian ballet dancer and actor. He attended the National Ballet School of Canada, where part of Tiny Pretty Things was shot, and the Jiulliard School in New York, one of the world’s leading drama, music and dance schools.
In 2012, Brennan appeared in a Gillette commercial and one year later in the series The Next Step. During the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, he started a new hobby, horse back riding. In the second lockdown, he found himself another hobby: he restarted his Youtube channel with a Q & A video. “I love to dance because I’m good at it,” he says in the video without false modesty. “I like to feel that I’m good at doing something. It gives me confidence and it makes me feel alive.”
Brennan loves his two cats Pippa (6) and Lancelot (1): “I love feeding them. It’s the first thing I do in the morning after getting up. They’re both so excited, they’re all over me, putting their heads in the food bag. I pet both of them from head to tail and I say: eat and enjoy. It brings me so much joy.” Is there going to be a Season 2 of Tiny Pretty Things? “I really hope it, because I’d love to be blonde again,” Brennan says. “Brown is my natural hair colour, but having blond hair is so much fun.” With the international launch of Tiny Pretty Things, the number of Brennan’s Instagram followers rose from 171’000 to 217’000 in just eight days and the number of Youtube followers from 43’200 to 46’700.
Bayardo De Murguia plays Ramon, a ballet master with a deep baritone. He is a former bad-boy dancer turned visionary choreographer. He’s not big on criticism, especially from students, which produces friction within the Archer School of Ballet and with his girlfriend and muse of the moment, Delia, Bette’s sister.
Bayardo is a Mexican-American actor who grew up in Tijuana (Mexico) and San Diego. He’s passionale about motorcycling and his beabull Mercutio. On Instagram, he often posts pictures of his girlfriend Gabriela Fresquez, a TV host, and his best buddy Mercutio. With the international launch of the ballet drama, Bayardo’s number of Instagram followers rose from 1845 to 12’200 in just eight days.
Barton Cowperthwaite plays Oren, a strapping prince of a man. Wealth and good looks gave him great roles, Bette as a girlfriend, and primed him for success, but beneath this veneer lies crippling anxiety and a dysfunctional obsession with his body.
Barton is an American dancer, model and actor who grew up in Denver, Colorado. He started with hip hop at the age of 12 together with his little brother. Then he got into tap, jazz, ballet and modern dance. He got his BFA in Dance from The University of Arizona. In an interview with Who What Wear, Barton said: “A particularly rewarding moment in my dance career was the principal role in La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera. I partnered with Sara Mearns, a principal dancer at New York City Ballet.”
Damon J. Gillespie plays Caleb, a ballet dancer who knows martial arts and who uses his humor and talent to mask his struggles with a profound loss — and a secret that could unravel the institution.
Damon is an actor, singer, dancer, acrobat and musician from Tennessee. He’s trained in ballroom, ballet, jazz, and tap and can play six instruments. After graduating from the Roosevelt University Chicago College of Performing Arts, Damon moved to New York City to take on the role of Buttons in Disney’s Broadway musical Newsies. He also performed in the Broadway musical Aladdin and in West Side Story. In his spare time Damon enjoys cooking, creating music, teaching and playing video games. He has 20’600 followers on Instagram.
Lauren Holly plays Monique Dubois, a former dancer turned The Archer School director. Driven by ambition and a true belief in ASB’s value, Monique holds unique power over the school, using her dark capacities not only to defend her institution, but also to bring about the best in her students regardless of her means.
Lauren Holly is a 57-year-old American-Canadian actress who lives in Ontario, Canada, with her three children. She’s best known for her roles in Picket Fences, NCIS as well as Dumb and Dumber. She was married to Danny Quinn, Jim Carrey and Francis Greco. Lauren has 39’600 followers on Instagram.
Alexander Elling plays Matteo Marchetti, a musician Bette falls in love with, even though she thought he was a drug dealer when they met. Matteo’s Italian family makes her feel at ease, a feeling she never had with her own mother, who always criticizes her for eating too much and for not being as good as her sister Delia.
Alexander is a 27-year-old actor who had a minor role in Shadowhunters (2017) and the Netflix science fiction drama Another Life (2019). He has 20’500 followers on Instagram.
Jess Salgueiro plays Isabel, a cop who served as a soldier in Afghanistan before she traded in one uniform for another. With her ambition and keen moral compass, she’s determined to find the truth of what happened during a mysterious accident at the Academy.
Jess Salgueiro is a Canadian actress who appeared in the TV series The Boys, Workin’ Moms and Letterkenny. Her parents are Portuguese Canadian and she lives in Toronto. Jess has 18’300 followers on Instagram.
Jennifer Nichols is the head choreographer and dance consultant of the Tiny Pretty Things series. She’s a professional dancer, a fitness specialist and the founder of the Extension Room, a method that combines classical ballet and intense fitness workouts. “Dance is a sport, an art, and a means of expression and healing which every individual can benefit from,” she writes on her website.
Tory Trowbridge plays Delia, Bette’s older sister, and dancer of supreme caliber and beauty. She is the Whitlaw Family’s first prodigy, returning to Chicago after two years dancing abroad. With her newfound success and her relationship with ballet master and choreographer Ramon, Delia relishes her new role as a diva, triumphantly returning to the school that scorned her when she was a student.
Tory Trowbridge is a professional dancer and a Broadway actress who attended The Conservatory of Performing Arts in Pittsburgh for Musical Theatre. She appeared in successful musicals such as The Cher Show and An American in Paris. Tory lives in New York City and has 7308 followers on Instagram.
A few more talented ballet dancers appeared in Tiny Pretty Things: Emily Skubic, Clare Butler, Sarah-Maude Laliberté, Ashley Coulson (Gwen), Kirill Lordski, Lily McEvenue, Mia Bowman, Lucas De Marinis, Evgeni Dokoukine, Ty Forhan and Josh St. John.
THE BEST AND THE WORST OF TINY PRETTY THINGS
The Top 5
The ballet drama is good entertainment for a young audience.
The students of the Archer School of Ballet are all professional ballet dancers. They didn’t have any doubles on the set.
Lauren Holly who plays Monique Dubois is the best actress of the cast. With her sophisticated hairstyle and make-up, she looks like Australian fashion designer Tamara Ralph.
The lightning of the TV show, especially at night on the roof, is excellent.
The Jack the Ripper ballet dance scenes in the last episode are great, including the modern scenery.
The Flop 5
Tiny Pretty Things is a fictional story, based on a soapy novel for Generation Z. It doesn’t reflect the real life of ballet students who train much harder at an elite ballet academy. In the TV show, they have a few rehearsals with only two ballet masters and plenty of free time to have fun, to enjoy the city, to have affairs or to serve drinks at the Michi Beach Club.
The ballet drama doesn’t show any well-educated ballet dancers. “I’ve never read a book in my whole life,” says Shane. In real life, ballet students in Europe are well-educated and they have to attend various dance courses (classic, character, contemporary, jazz and folk) and lectures about the history of ballet and dance, mime, theatre, entertainment law, anatomy and physical preparation.
The screenwriter who invented the character of Nabil doesn’t have a clue about Muslims and French people. Nabil’s portrayal reflects clichés. Moreover, casting a New Yorker actor (Michael Hsu Rosen) who speaks English with an awful French accent and speaks French with an awful American accent is a torture for any French-speaking viewer. Finally, the fact that Nabil left the Opéra de Paris, the world’s most prestigious ballet school, to pursue his studies in Chicago doesn’t make any sense, even if he broke the law.
Many viewers complain on Instagram that the acting of the dancers is bad. The acting of the students is not overwhelming, that’s true, but they are professional ballet dancers, not actors. You wouldn’t expect Emma Stone or Joaquin Phoenix to dance like Misty Copeland or Roberto Bolle, would you?
Neither Insurrection Media (TPT’s production company) nor Netflix released a press kit for the worldwide release of the series. They neither assisted journalists with info requests (Insurrection Media didn’t even bother to reply to our two e-mails). The selection of pictures in the media center were incomplete: there wasn’t a single picture of Cassie or Delia and there were no portraits of Shane and Oren. (The lack of media assistance is a general problem with Netflix, we also had it with the French series Lupin and therefore didn’t publish any article.)
TRAILER & EXTENDED DANCE SCENES TINY PRETTY THINGS
Brennan Clost had a great timing filming his co-stars of Tiny Pretty Things for his Vlog. Watch them dancing, laughing, kissing and being foolish! Did you know that all the actors had to wear kimonos when they ate to protect their clothes? And that Brennan had a picture of his cats in Shane and Oren’s room? And why is Brennan freezing with another hot actor in the parking lot in the middle of the night?
Watch Shane and Oren breakdancing and all the actors rehearsing for their best dance scenes! Discover the duet that Shane and Beth never ended up performing on the show.
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Photos: Courtesy of Sophie Giraud / Netflix © 2020