Life has always taken Raychel Diane Weiner in unusual directions. “I tend to go wherever the wind blows,” she says. “I like to let things happen.”

A lot is happening these days for Weiner, who has left the corps of Ballet Arizona to join the cast of “Flesh and Bone,” a new original series about the ballet world that will run next year on the Starz Network. Weiner trained in Southern California with Charles Maple and Diane Lauridsen, at South Bay Ballet in Torrance. Her brother was a child actor and she often went on casting calls with him. His agent began representing her as well, and she ended up with several ads and children’s book covers. While she always loved dance, she didn’t focus on ballet until she was 15. “I don’t know if I was ready before that to not be a normal teenager,” Weiner says.

Once she decided to make ballet her priority, she amped up her studies and went on to perform with ABT Studio Company, St. Louis Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and, most recently, Ballet Arizona and San Francisco’s Post:Ballet. While still dancing with Ballet Arizona, Weiner heard about an open casting call for “Flesh and Bone,” and though she wasn’t interested in leaving the company, she sent in a resumé and head shot. “The next thing I knew, I was in New York auditioning in front of the executive producers and Ethan Stiefel.” Weiner knew Stiefel, who will choreograph the show, from Ballet Pacifica and from Stiefel and Stars, his summer program on Martha’s Vineyard. She was excited to be cast as the show’s unconventional demi-soloist Daphne, and even more excited at the prospect of portraying the lives of professional dancers in a drama.

“As a dancer, it’s been hard for me to watch certain shows or movies about the ballet world, because they’re so extreme,” says Weiner. “This show will be interesting because it’s scripted, not a reality show. There may be dramatic moments that aren’t necessarily realistic, but as far as the dancing, that will be 100 percent real.”

Weiner says she is unlike her character in some ways—Daphne grew up in a wealthy family in New York—but very much like her in others. “She’s no-nonsense,” Weiner says. “She has a tough exterior, but she’s actually one of the sweeter girls, kind of a cool chick. I have a lot of tattoos, and I was never interested in growing my hair out—I always said I can make a fake bun if I need to. Daphne has a bit of rebelliousness about her, too. I think we have  similar personalities—I’m really excited to play a kind of exaggerated version of myself.”


Fun Facts
Favorite tattoo:
“Three plumeria flowers in a cluster, one each for my mother, grandmother and best friend” 

Secret guilty pleasure: “Anything chocolate. I have to eat dessert with every meal—it’s not a meal if there’s not dessert.” 

Dream role: Juliet

Favorite hobby: Loves to sew and makes many of her own clothes
Unusual places to see her:
The covers of two Nancy Drew books: Werewolf in a Winter Wonderland and A Taste of Danger

popular

When the news broke that Prince George, currently third in line for the British throne, would be continuing ballet classes as part of his school curriculum this year, we were as excited as anyone. (Okay, maybe more excited.)

This was not, it seems, a sentiment shared by "Good Morning America" host Lara Spencer.

Keep reading... Show less
News
A still from Dancing Dreams. Courtesy OVID

If you're seeking an extra dash of inspiration to start the new season on the right—dare we say—foot, look no further than dance documentaries.

Starting August 23, OVID, a streaming service dedicated to docs and art-house films, is adding eight notable dance documentaries to its library. The best part? There's a free seven-day trial. (After that, subscriptions are $6.99 per month or $69.99 annually.)

From the glamour of Russian ballet stars to young dancers training in Cuba to a portrait of powerhouse couple Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder, here's what's coming to a couch near you:

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Via @lizzo on Twitter

On August 20, pop goddess Lizzo tweeted, "Someone do a ballet routine to truth hurts pls," referring to the anthem that's been top on everyone's playlists this summer. Lizzo might not know it yet, but ballet dancers are not known for shying away from a challenge. In the past two days, the internet has exploded with responses, with dancers like Houston Ballet's Harper Watters and American Ballet Theatre's Erica Lall tagging the singer in submissions.

Below are a few of our favorites so far, but we're guessing that this is just the beginning. Ballet world, consider yourselves officially challenged! (Use #LizzoBalletChallenge so we know what you're up to.)

Keep reading... Show less