News

Chances are you've heard a lot about Starz's "Flesh and Bone" over the past year, from its casting choices (22 professional dancers make up the show's fictional ballet company) to Sarah Hay's Golden Globe-nominated performance as a talented yet troubled young dancer who runs away from an abusive home to join a New York City ballet company.

But have you seen it yet? For those who have been eagerly waiting, here's a piece of welcome news: the series was recently released on DVD and Blu-ray. Full disclosure: due to depictions of graphic sexuality and drug use, this show has a MA rating and is not for kids. But while the show's mature content and dark themes don't always present the ballet world in the best light, there's no doubt that it also features some pretty great dancing—as evidenced in the exclusive behind-the-scenes clip below. The video provides a glimpse of choreographer Ethan Stiefel working with the dancers on two ballets: Balanchine's "Rubies," and a new work that Stiefel created for the series.

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New Years is quickly retreating into the rearview as 2016 revs into gear and, for many people, the first couple months of the year mean one thing: awards season. Though our October/November 2015 cover girl Sarah Hay didn’t win a Golden Globe for “Flesh and Bone” last night, we doubt her foray into acting is over. With the Oscars around the corner, we’re taking a look back at some ballet dancers-turned-actors.

Brigitte Bardot

Photo courtesy of The Australian Ballet’s Behind Ballet.

Bardot was known for her sex-symbol persona in movies like Naughty Girl (1956) and A Very Private Affair (1962), but she trained as a classical ballet dancer and became the muse for pointe shoe company Repetto’s iconic street flats.

Audrey Hepburn

Photo by David Seymour courtesy of the Rare Audrey Hepburn.

Before becoming an Academy Award winner, Hepburn wanted to be a ballet dancer. Where else but a ballet studio would she have refined that stunning elegance and poise?

Mikhail Baryshnikov

Baryshnikov in Benjamin Millepied’s “Years Later.” Photo by Andrea Mohin courtesy of The New York Times.

One of the most famous male dancers of the last century, Baryshnikov didn't just win bunheads' hearts as Aleksandr Petrovsky in “Sex and the City” and in movies like The Turning Point (1977).

Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana. More fashion than ballet, but we couldn't resist.

Who could forget the sassy role Saldana played as Eva Rodriguez in Center Stage (2000) with co-stars and former American Ballet Theatre dancers Ethan Stiefel and Sascha Radetsky. Now she’s taking the big screen by storm in movies like Star Trek (2009) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).

Sarah Hay

Photo by Nathan Sayers

And, of course, our October/November cover girl as Claire in "Flesh and Bone."

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

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Nathan Sayers

The 2016 Golden Globes nominations were announced yesterday, and this year we have extra reason to pay attention. Dancer/actress (and our October/November cover star) Sarah Hay has been nominated for best actress in a TV movie or limited series, for her starring role in Starz's gritty drama "Flesh and Bone." The show, notable for casting real dancers to play the members of its fictional ballet company, also snagged a nomination for best TV movie or miniseries.

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Ballet Stars
Sarah Hay photographed by Nathan Sayers for Pointe.

This is Pointe's October/November 2015 Cover Story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

On the Starz television series “Flesh and Bone," Sarah Hay plays Claire, a troubled young dancer getting her first big break in a New York City ballet company. With faraway eyes, she listens to music on a dreary train, escaping some unknown horror at home to attend an audition in the big city. Her hands move expertly through a variation as if in prayer. But when her phone rings during her first company class, she finds herself the focus of ridicule. Forced to perform the adagio by herself in front of the company, she sails through it with sharp technique and emotional intensity, making it clear to the show's characters that Claire is a dance genius.

Though “Flesh and Bone" is obviously fictional, Hay's natural acting ability comes across as finely crafted as her dancing. It's hard not to imagine that Hay had plenty of source material from her own life to draw on for the role. After a slow career start and battles with intense anxiety and body issues, Hay is now thriving at Dresden Semperoper Ballett as a second soloist. Her extreme vulnerability and emotional honesty, developed after years spent struggling at the bottom of companies, punctuate her highly technical dancing and make her performances on stage and screen so compelling. Now, Hay is coming into her own in front of an audience numbering into the millions, and her future is looking bright.


Hay as Marie in Aaron S. Watkin's "The Nutcracker." Photo by Ian Whalen, Courtesy Hay.

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Ballet Stars
Producers spent 15 weeks auditioning professional dancers to make up the show's American Ballet Company. Sarah Hay stars as Claire, a talented new dancer with a troubled past. Photo by Myles Aronowitz, Courtesy Starz.

"Cut!" Ethan Stiefel's voice booms from behind a monitor. The cast of “Flesh and Bone," the Starz network's new television series set in a New York City ballet company, is filming the final episode's climactic performance scene. Onstage, the dancers regroup while Stiefel, the show's choreographer and dance consultant, huddles with the director and film crew before heading onstage to give notes. Five minutes turn to 20 as the cast stands by, dropping down into push-ups or stretches (one even donning a parka) to keep their bodies warm while the crew fiddles with lighting and camera angles. Makeup artists emerge to powder noses. After what feels like an eternity, the cameras finally roll and everyone once again bursts into dance.

For the 22 professional dancers that make up the bulk of the show's cast, this is the grueling reality of film production, and a major adjustment from live theater. “The days are very long," says former American Ballet Theatre principal Irina Dvorovenko, who plays Kiira. “You have to do many, many takes from this angle and that angle." But Dvorovenko relished the experience, and plans to pursue more acting opportunities. “Time flies on set. I loved every minute of it!"

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News

If you are eagerly awaiting the November 8 premiere of Starz’s gritty ballet drama “Flesh and Bone,” you’re in luck. The network released its first trailer of the eight-hour limited series yesterday—and it looks pretty tantalizing. The show includes an impressive cast of professional dancers, including Dresden Semperoper Ballet soloist Sarah Hay, former American Ballet Theatre dancers Irina Dvorovenko and Sascha Radetsky, Raychel Diane Weiner (formerly of Ballet Arizona), as well as “House of Cards” star Ben Daniels as the tyrannical artistic director (get ready for a chair-smashing temper tantrum). According to multiple Starz press releases, the show’s main character Claire, played by Hay, has a “distinctly troubled past”—and the trailer offers a few clues as to what that past might entail. You may also catch a glimpse of Ethan Stiefel’s choreography—the former Royal New Zealand Ballet director and ABT principal created a 13-minute original ballet for the show.

 

Here's a sneak peek:

 

The new Starz drama "Flesh and Bone" has been described as the television version of Black Swan—so it's only fitting that the show's lead is a veteran of the film.

Starz announced today that Dresden Semperoper's Sarah Hay—a talented dancer who was a member of Black Swan's corps (we interviewed her about the film back in 2010)—has been cast as "Flesh and Bone"'s Claire, an aspiring ballerina with "a distinctly troubled past."

The show released other casting, including Sascha Radetsky and Irina Dvorovenko, a few months ago, but had a hard time finding its lead. Now that Hay is on board, shooting is scheduled to begin soon. We'll keep you posted!

The much anticipated (at least in the ballet world) Starz drama "Flesh and Bone" finally has a premiere date: Sunday, November 8.

We've chronicled each development in the show's production as it came to light, and were sad to hear that the release had been postponed from earlier this year. Now, dance-on-TV fans only have to wait until November for the next big thing to air.

We're excited to see the lovely Sarah Hay, a dancer with Dresden’s Semperoper Ballett, in the lead role. And we can only hope that a show that bills itself as "the Black Swan of TV" gives credit to dancers where it's due and isn't too sensationalized.

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