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‘Flesh and Bone’ Cast and Creators on Getting to the Underbelly of Ballet: ‘We Ripped the Band-Aid Off’

TCA 2015: Starz drama showrunner also describes ”daunting task“ of casting dancers instead of actors who can dance

Starz’s “Flesh and Bone” purports to “rip the band-aid” off of the ballet world, showing the truth behind the grueling art, according to showrunners and cast members.

“This is the first time we’ve seen the underbelly of a ballet company,” said executive producer Moira Walley-Beckett onstage during the show’s panel at the Television Critics’ Association’s summer press tour. “I feel like a lot of those movies have catered to the very glossy, ethereal optical illusion that is ballet. We ripped the band-aid off.”

The show’s star is Sarah Hay, a professional ballet dancer who’s giving real acting a shot for the first time as the lead for the 10-episode limited series. For Walley-Beckett, finding Hay was an ordeal that lasted months.

“It was a daunting challenge. Chris Albrecht and the Starz team and I decided it would be greenlight-contingent. I didn’t want actors who could dance a little, I wanted dancers,” Walley-Beckett said. “It was a seven-month international search for main characters. We found some remarkable dancers, but we couldn’t find my Claire … Finally we tracked her down dancing for company in Germany, and the rest is history.”

Hay, for her part, agrees with her showrunner in how the show tackles the reality behind ballet.

“A lot of the time they stay on the surface or dive too deep into the drama,” she said. “This story has reality to its fullest. Everything that I portrayed during filming has happened to me as far as dancing, or everyday life. It’s completely authentic. There’s no frills to it.”

Earlier Friday, Starz execs announced the entire season of “Flesh and Bone” would be made available concurrently with the release of its premiere episode, which is slated to air Sunday, Nov. 8 at 9 p.m. ET.