Photo Credit: Fast Company Create
Flesh and Bone, a ballet drama created by Breaking Bad executive producer and former dancer Moirra Walley-Becket, makes its debut tonight at 8 p.m. eastern on Starz.
The eight-hour limited series centers around Claire, played by Sarah Hay. Other than a bit role in Black Swan, this is Sarah’s acting debut. Sarah told WWD that she never really dreamed of acting, even after her part on the award-winning film – in fact, she says that it actually deterred her from pursuing an acting career.
“Watching Natalie Portman work was kind of stressful because she was working so hard to keep herself in this form, so it kind of scared me,” she explained to the site.
But the 28-year-old’s mind was changed after receiving an email about Flesh and Bone – after the show had already auditioned more than 100 girls.
Walley-Beckett had mandated that every dancer on the show is a real professional dancer.
“They couldn’t find the balance between this fragile character and someone who could dance on a professional level,” Sarah noted.
The character Claire is an emotionally troubled, but gifted young dancer who tries to navigate the politics and drama of the world of ballet after joining a highly regarded New York City company.
To prepare for her role, Sarah said that she consulted her parents, who are both psychologists, to study mannerisms and characteristics of abuse victims.
She explained, “She doesn’t know what love is; she’s tainted, and damaged, and now she’s thrown into this world where everyone is tainted and damaged and glamorous and crazy and beautiful and she’s just gasping for breath to find normalcy in a crazy world.”
The cast also features Ben Daniels of House of Cards as the barking artistic director, Josh Helmen X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Good Wife’s Tina Benko and The Walking Dead’s Tovah Feldshuh. The series will also use more than 20 professional ballet dancers as actors.
Critics have called casting one of the show’s “greatest accomplishments,” thanks to gifted dancers like former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Irina Dvorovenko, former American Ballet Theatre soloist Sascha Radetsky and Ballet Arizona company dancer Raychel Diane Weiner.
Variety writes: “A lived-in world in which ballet dancers refer to the rehearsal studio as ‘the shark tank,’” which sums up the mini-series well, though dancing is truly where Flesh and Bone works best.