Starz Media is introducing a new television mini-series called "Flesh and Bone" this Sunday, 8 November, at 9pm. The premiere episode is titled "Bulling Through" and will revolve around a group of ballet dancers and their imperious creative director.
The official synopsis of Episode 1, which can be watched online here, reads: "Temporarily escaping her abusive and troubled past, Claire (Sarah Hay) gains entry into New York City's prestigious American Ballet Company where she finds new opportunities and new enemies."
Other celebrities to appear in the American television drama, created by Emmy-award winning writer Moira Walley-Beckett, include Marina Benedict as Toni Cannava, Tovah Feldshuh as Ivana, Emily Tyra as Mia Bialy, John Allee as Pasha, Carling Talcott as Ashley, Ben Daniels as Paul Grayson and Vanessa Aspillaga as the assistant company manager Monica.
Here are some of the early reviews of "Flesh and Bone" that briefly explain what to expect from Sarah Hay and team:
Starz's new limited series "Flesh and Bone" masquerades as an alternatively realistic and operatic look at the world of professional ballet, but plays as something closer to Showgirls en Pointe.
The mixture of tonal miscalculation, absurdly out-of-place characterisations, Starz-friendly exploitative raunch and fleetingly lovely dancing is almost certain to win fans prepared for camp lunacy, but, goodness — the disappointment for those viewers excited to see creator Moira Walley-Beckett take the reins of her own show after years of superlative writing and producing work on "Breaking Bad".
Created by Moira Walley-Beckett, who won a writing Emmy for an episode of "Breaking Bad," "Flesh and Bone" works the dancer-stripper-prostitute parallel hard, though only occasionally with the demented glee that "Showgirls" brought to the same trope. But when those moments come, they're worth waiting for.
"Flesh and Bone" is a solemn gigglefest, too wintry in its look and deliberate in its pacing to ascend to true camp status, but still ripe for group viewing and drinking games.
"Flesh and Bone" presents a lived-in world in which ballet dancers refer to the rehearsal studio as "the shark tank." It's an apt description, given the rivalries and backstabbing that goes on in that room (and away from it). If only "Flesh and Bone's" sharks were more complicated and charismatic, this program would land with greater force.
In early episodes, once it establishes that ballet dancers smoke, take drugs and have sex, "Flesh and Bone" doesn't do much with the majority of Claire's fellow dancers, focusing instead on a leaden and increasingly dominant story about how Claire's past is sabotaging her present.
"Flesh and Bone" recasts the highbrow art of ballet within the lowbrow genre of melodrama. The show is too thoughtful to be dismissed as kitschy fun. There's no pleasure in the dancers' pain, just a deep compassion for their struggle for perfection. They might be masochists, but "Flesh and Bone" refuses to make sadists of the rest of us.