“Bunheads” was one of the most refreshing surprises of the summer season, and now the show returns to ABC Family’s schedule for eight more episodes beginning tonight (Jan. 7).
That means more of the sparkling wit and idiosyncratic style of creator Amy Sherman-Palladino (“Gilmore Girls”) that separates “Bunheads” from everything else on ABC Family’s schedule. And more of the delightfully screwed-up former showgirl Michelle (two-time Tony winner Sutton Foster) sparring with feisty mother-in-law Fanny (Kelly Bishop).
It also means more of the four young ballet students who give the show its name (and were just starting to come into their own when the initial run of 10 episodes ended in August): Julia Goldani Telles as rebellious prodigy Sasha, Kaitlyn Jenkins as passionate and good-natured Boo, Bailey Buntain as bubbly Ginny, and Emma Dumont blunt-talking tomboy Melanie.
Zap2it talked to all four of the actresses about what’s ahead in the second half of season one, how they’re handling the show’s increased dance numbers and what their characters think of the new bunhead in town (played by “So You Think You Can Dance” champ Jeanine Mason, who arrives in next week’s episode).
What’s next for the characters…
Julia Goldani Telles (Sasha): “Sasha’s parents are fighting more than ever. It all kind of peaks and collapses when her parents give her an ultimatum. Then her world really really falls apart. She really has to make a choice about where she’s gonna go — Is she gonna be on her own? Is she gonna be with Michelle? She’s really forced to be an adult prematurely.”
Emma Dumont (Melanie): “Melanie is really the supportive friend this season. Melanie’s kind of Ginny’s rock for a long while. Then all of a sudden Melanie finds this thing called roller derby. She starts playing this sport and she gets so caught up in it she kind of finds a new family. Within that she kind of forgets about her old family. Ginny gets very upset with her, [she] almost feels betrayed by Melanie. A lot of this season is Melanie trying to earn Ginny’s trust back. It might take more than just an apology for her to get back in Ginny’s good graces.”
Bailey Buntain (Ginny): “[Ginny starts working in her mom’s real estate business.] I don’t know if that was her choice or forced upon her because her mother was not functioning. But she embraced it and man, she goes at it full force. It’s really dependent on how long her mom is in crazy town, and it looks like she’s there for a while. So she’s going to be pulling her weight in the family for a good bit. But I think it’s good, it kind of distracts her from what’s going on. It gives her something to do and focus on. I don’t know if she’d admit that though.”
Kaitlyn Jenkins (Boo): “[Boo’s] mom not only is pregnant, she has to be on bed rest. When the baby comes it’s going to be very hectic. It definitely starts to take over Boo’s life, and it starts to affect her relationship with Carl a little bit. And definitely with the other girls. It kind of starts isolating her from the other girls. With all the preparations, she’s kind of overwhelmed. So when she has a free moment she just wants to relax. She’s a little bit more serious now, but she still is the same old Boo.”
Julia Goldani Telles (Sasha): “Sasha has a love interest named Roman. We saw him a little bit at the end of the season finale, a jock turned goth boy. He’s very similar to Sasha in that he’s sarcastic and smart but he’s also very hot-headed like she is. Very short-tempered and jealous and a little bit confused. They’re going through ups and downs together. We see them butting heads because they like each other so much they just don’t know how to deal with it. It’s all very emotional.”
Emma Dumont (Melanie): “I would love Melanie to get a boyfriend. I think it’s her time. It’d be really cool to see how she interacts in a romantic relationship. Because she is so much of a tomboy, I think so many girls out there would connect with that. I grew up watching girls on TV who were super girly, it’s cool and different to see someone who’s such a tomboy be romantic.”
Bailey Buntain (Ginny): “Well, we all know [Ginny’s] super fickle. She had a boyfriend forever but then it just seems like she crushes on everyone thereafter. This new boy comes in and he’s very mysterious and very smart and artsy. And [he’s] just different than Josh, different from Charlie. It takes her by surprise. He’s very, very cute, and it makes her very klutzy and awkward and weird. Right now it’s more just an explorative crush. We’ll see what happens. We still have like four episodes left, so that’s a lot of time.”
The winter season’s theme is “Dance your buns off”…
Julia Goldani Telles (Sasha): “We’re doing another spontaneous dance number at the end of one of the episodes [like Sasha’s dance to “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” in the episode “Movie Truck”]. It’s centered around Sasha and it’s defiant and sad and long and beautiful. We’re doing a lot more [dance] that ties-in and symbolizes something that Sasha [and the other characters] are going through. Right after we learn the dance the first thing [Marguerite Derricks, our choreographer] says is ‘All right, now put your character into it because that’s what’s gonna make the dance come to life.’ I think that’s very true. Once I start putting Sasha into it it becomes something very different than if it were just me. It’s another great method of expression to discover more and more about Sasha.”
Emma Dumont (Melanie): “There are a lot of really fun dances that all of us are in. They’re super fun, super quirky. Throughout the season we do different styles and we actually end up getting back to our very classical training when we do a production of ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ There’s a lot more dancing this season and I think that’s pretty exciting. We do a [contemporary] dance that’s a very sad kind of powerful dance about halfway through the season, that definitely stuck with me and was one of my favorites.”
Bailey Buntain (Ginny): “There’s a lot more dancing in these eight episodes. The level that the nature dance was at [in the episode “Money for Nothing”] –we’ve got some that surpass that. My favorite dance number that we did is in episode five. It’s the teaser, it’s the opening. It was so much fun to shoot. We have a full dance, if not sometimes two or three an episode. They’re not all production costume based, they [can] be classroom based or dreams. I’m excited to see how they turn out.”
Kaitlyn Jenkins (Boo): “The dance rehearsals were pretty intense. We had like seven or eight hours every day of just being in the dance room and working together with Marguerite Derricks and putting it together. I posted a picture [on Twitter] and it was like bruises and bloody blisters and toenails falling off. It’s a lovely picture
to paint, right? It’s been hard work definitely, but it’s going to be worth it.”
On the new bunhead in town…
Julia Goldani Telles (Sasha): “Cosette is this enigmatic, beautiful and complicated new girl. I think Sasha’s very intrigued by her. But at the same time Sasha’s going through her own stuff, her own issues at home and with her boyfriend and with Michelle. I don’t think she focuses as much energy on Cosette as people expect her to. I think this season is really about Sasha maturing and growing into an adult a little bit. She’s way more focused on her own stuff.”
Bailey Buntain (Ginny): “[Cosette is] not one of the four of us, but it switches dynamics a little bit. Some girls bond with her, some don’t. Ginny hates change, so she really resists it. It’s just: Who is she? Why is she here? Why is she talking to my friends? Why is she dancing in the studio? [Ginny] just doesn’t like change and it’s a big change. But the new girl brings along her very cute brother. And [Ginny’s] okay with that. He can stay.”
Kaitlyn Jenkins (Boo): “Boo is so involved in what she’s doing with her family and her brothers and trying to take care of them and then watching them, and trying to figure out when Carl is getting home, and what’s happening with Michelle. So much is going on in her mind that she hasn’t even really realized that Cosette is even in town yet. I feel that she’s very friendly, so I think once she actually gets to know Cosette she wouldn’t mind. But since Ginny does not like Cosette, Boo might be a little bit more standoffish because she really loves her friends and she would never want to hurt them. I think that’s definitely going to be a conflict in the future.”