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Television: What Do Breaking Bad and Ballet Have in Common? A Field Guide to Flesh and Bone

Alex Casey introduces Flesh and Bone, a new drama exclusive to our sponsors Lightbox, and explains why Breaking Bad fans are about to get obsessed with the ballet.

What’s the story?

Ballet ain’t all pirouettes and glamorous costumes, as we find out within moments of Flesh and Bone opening. Claire is a gifted young dancer who has escaped her dark past to arrive at the bright lights of the upper echelon of the ballet world. Finding herself in New York City’s most prestigious company, she is thrown into a tumultuous world sex, drugs, and grim broken toenails.

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An unflinching look at the ugly side of ambition, Flesh and Bone takes you well beyond the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy to see the blistered and broken underside of ballet. Once in the company, Claire finds herself faced with treacherous troupe members, seedy old men in high places and the burden of an unabashed talent for her craft. To what ends will she go to to succeed? You’ll need to rest on a barre when you find out.

What’s the vibe?

Described by Vanity Fair as Center Stage meets Breaking Bad,” it’s not crazy to also draw comparison to Darren Aronofsky’s twisted masterpiece Black Swan. The visceral sound design and grim, washed out green-tinged shots have fifty shades of David Fincher. Terrified by the destructive, abusive relationship between the main characters in Whiplash? Brace yourself before meeting the company director Paul.

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Who do you need to know?

Creator Moira Walley-Beckett is an Emmy Award-winning writer, who was a head writer and producer for Breaking Bad and partially responsible for ‘Ozymandias’, often regarded as the greatest episode of television ever made.

Joining her is executive producer Lawrence Bender, known for his association with long-time collaborator Quentin Tarantino. Producing Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, he’s also leant his talents to Good Will Hunting and An Inconvenient Truth. Legend.

Directing Flesh and Bone is David Michod, the man behind the brilliant, bleak Australian crime film Animal Kingdom. His deft eye for the dark side of life slices through the glitz and glamour of ballet like a perfect plié.

Oh, and the cast. Playing the torturous company director Paul is Ben Daniels, who cut his teeth on the stage before moving to television. Claire is played to desperate perfection by Sarah Hay, a ballerina since the age of eight. A soloist at the Dresden Semperoper Ballett in Germany, and alumni from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of Ballet, she knows Claire’s world so well, because she’s lived it.

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How to watch it?

On Lightbox, arriving on November 9. Make sure to pour yourself a champagne – not a prosecco. Ballet dancers don’t drink lowly prosecco.

Watch the trailer below:


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