What if Dunder-Mifflin wasn’t a paper company and The Office in fact took place at the ballet? That’s what you sort of get in CBC’s Off Kilter, an eight-part new digital series available now on CBC’swebsite in Canada and on YouTube internationally. In the series, creator and co-writter Alejandro Álvarez Cadilla stars as Milton Frank, the ballet world’s up-and-comer who never up-and-came. After a massive plagiarism scandal, Milton is back and trying to make a triumphant return to the world of professional ballet. That return ends up getting intertwined with the agenda of a PR genius BB (Darnell-Martin) and Anna (Sarah Murphy-Dyson), an almost-retired ballerina.
Murphy-Dyson knows a thing or two about her role as Anna too, as she was a First Soloist with The Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company. She also has experience in film and TV being a stunt double for Milla Jovovich and Kate Beckinsale and has TV credits that include Suits, Workin’ Moms and Rookie Blue. She recently spoke with The TV Junkies about her role as Anna and why she could relate to the character. She also previews why even if you’re not into dancing you’re going to want to check out Off Kilter.
The TV Junkies: You certainly have the dancing background to qualify you for this role, but how did the opportunity to be a part of Off Kilter come about and why did you want to be a part of it?
Sarah Murphy-Dyson: It’s somewhat of a dream role for me because it’s my two biggest passions coming together. I was a ballet dancer for years and then retired to study acting full-time, so to get to do them together is fantastic. I had known Alejandro since the early 90s when we danced together. He contacted me and said ‘do you want to do it?’ It was like no time had passed when we got back together, and I think that’s part of what makes the Anna and Milton relationship so good, that Alejandro and I have so much history together. I feel so lucky to be a part of it.
TTVJ: What can you share with us about Anna?
SMD: I can certainly relate to her because she’s an older dancer who had a great career and this is maybe her last couple years dancing. She wants to make the most of that, but is also trying to balance a family and her body isn’t what it used to be so everything hurts. It’s really neat because the other dancers are some of Canada’s best dancers and to be in that ballet mentality again was really fun, but also made me recognize I’m happy I’m not in that full-time anymore. Anna is able to offer those other dancers life experience advice and she shares what she’s learned along the way. She’s a bit older and realizes that it’s OK to have a voice, even though it might not be popular.
TTVJ: We do also get to see Anna’s life at home a bit as a mother, another thing you could obviously relate to with this character since you’re a mom. What is she struggling with there?
SMD: I don’t know if Anna was written with a child because I have one, but it’s always tough finding that balance. I’m doing a show right now and my daughter is sad I’m not home at bedtime, but at the same time I want to teach that it’s important to do the things you love to do. It’s a real struggle and a tough balance to find.
TTVJ: Other than Anna, what can you share about some of the other characters we’ll meet in Off Kilter?
SMD: Milton Frank is the main character and choreographer that was outed years ago for plagiarizing. He’s now making this comeback, but he’s terrified. BB is a PR person who wants to put her firm on the map by orchestrating this, but he’s so terrified of it all. Milton is a mix of every teacher and choreographer we’ve ever worked with. So there’s ego to deal with, sexism and some ageism to work with. We really touch on these real topics within the fantasy world of ballet, the gritty side of things.
As for the other dancers, Luke is my partner and played by the National Ballet’s Brendan Saye who is a total dreamboat. He, along with Harrison (Wynn) and Chelsy (Meiss), are principals and soloists with the National Ballet of Canada. They hadn’t done much acting but were all such naturals that just blew me away. It was just such a blast to shoot with all of them.
TTVJ: What really surprised me about the series is that it’s not all about dancing. You guys discuss topics like equal pay between men and women and I just wasn’t expecting that, but so pleasantly surprised.
SMD: I know! I’m very happy about that too and I feel that if we were to continue that would be an important part. It wasn’t brought up just for show, but really to discuss these important topics. I really loved how Alejandro integrated that.
TTVJ: Obviously people who have danced or are into ballet are going to immediately have interest in Off Kilter, but what about people who know nothing about dancing?
SMD: People who don’t know about dance will get a chance to see what really happens with it, but that’s all secondary to the storylines that are happening. If you don’t like dance at all, there’s still enough story there to keep you. If you are a dancer, what’s unique about this is the balance they found of it being funny, real and important in some ways, but then the level of dancing is so high. This is as good as it can get and those guys make me look so good. I think that’s one thing that’s very special about it, these top dancers doing a down-to-earth show.
Are you intrigued by Off Kilter and want to check it out? Sound off below!
Off Kilter is available for streaming on CBC’s websitein Canada and on YouTube internationally.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.