The ballet world is buzzing about new Starz series, Flesh and Bone. With heavy involvement from Breaking Bad writer and producer, Moira Walley-Beckett, and actual ballet dancers cast such as Dresden Semperoper Ballet’s soloist Sarah Hay, will the show live up the buzz? Sadly, it falls short so far, but this is only the first episode. The dancing is pretty spot on, the acting is acceptable, but the plot is dark and so far unengaging and leaves the viewer feeling like the ballet world is a very shady place indeed.
This is a dark, very adult drama, and the show reminds the audience of this from the opening minutes by featuring a drawn out nudity heavy sex scene, with our lead ballerina creeping in the background, waiting for the couple to finish. How scandalous. Flesh and Bone has the whole mixed bag of ballet clichés; the flamboyant angry ballet company director who sleeps with his dancers, a self-harming and twisted but inexplicably talented ballerina, and some jealous corps de ballet dancers.
The standout moments of the episode happily included the actual dancing; at the barre during company class and the adagio that turned our ballerina heroine Claire into the next company star. Another dancer of note to watch out for is Ross, played by Sascha Radetsky, former American Ballet Theatre principal. Some may remember him as Charlie in Center Stage, the cult classic ballet teen movie from the early 2000s. Let’s just say Ross is not as sweet of a character as Charlie.
Major problems with this episode are down to a lack of clarity in the plot. Hopefully this will all unfold and be more clear as the show goes on. So far it all seems a little bit farfetched and questionable from the start of the episode. We are introduced to Claire who seems to just had a whim that it was randomly time to run away to New York and audition for the top ballet company there and then. Fine, but then she wants to keep her location and new life a secret from her creepy brother, whom she speaks to at the end of the episode while he pleasures himself to the sound of her voice while clutching a ballerina figurine.
We knew before that that Claire had “family issues” as she explained to company director Paul at her audition, but how does she think joining a ballet company is the best way to keep her new life under wraps? Especially now that Paul is determined to feature her as the big new star of the company during the opening of their season. That is definitely going to end up in the press, and if Claire’s creepy brother is in any way determined to find her, he will find out through his Google Alerts pretty shortly.
It’s often hard to get a feel for a show after only one epsiode, so we’ll keep watching, enjoy the dancing and see where Flesh and Bone goes with an open mind. We also know we have Center Stage alum Ethan Stiefel’s original choreography for the show to look forward to in future episodes.