January 26, 2014 4:22pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Ballet Drama 'Flesh and Bone' Ordered to Series at Starz
Starz is adding a female-skewing drama to its roster.
The premium cable network has cast Black Swan's Sarah Hay to star in Flesh and Bone and picked up the ballet drama from Breaking Bad alum Moira Walley-Beckett to series, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The drama centers on Claire (Hay), who has a distinctly troubled past, as she joins a prestigious ballet company in New York. The dark and gritty series will unflinchingly explore the dysfunction and glamour of the ballet world. Hay's Claire is further described as a beautiful, soulful and deeply emotionally wounded young woman who possesses an innate innocence and fragility while at the same time harboring self-destructive tendencies and a vaulting ambition. She is a transcendent ballerina, capable of reaching the sublime, but her inner torment and aspirations drive her in compelling, unforeseeable ways.
Oscar nominee Lawrence Bender (Inglourious Basterds, Good Will Hunting), Kevin Brown (Roswell) and John Melfi (Sex and the City, House of Cards) will executive produce for Starz alongside Walley-Beckett, who serves as writer. Bender, Brown and Walley-Beckett all have ties to the ballet world, with Bender and Walley-Beckett both former dancers and Brown's family comprising dancers and serving as the basis for the Oscar-nominated feature The Turning Point. Royal New Zealand Ballet artistic director Ethan Stiefel (Center Stage, Center Stage: Turn It Up) -- the artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet and a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre from 1997-2012 -- serves as a consultant and choreographer on the series.
Hay began her training at the School of American Ballet at age 8 and later attended the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of Ballet at the American Ballet Theatre. She was a soloist at the Dresden Semperoper Ballett company in Germany, where she performed the title role in Cinderella and starred in The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. She danced as a member of the corps de ballet in Black Swan.
She joins a cast that includes former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Irina Dvorovenko, ABT soloist Sascha Radetsky, Ballet Arizona company dancer Raychel Diane Weiner and Boardwalk Empire's Emily Tyra.
“From the beginning, we all agreed this project could not go forward unless we found a world-class dancer who had the ability to convey the widest range of emotions that Moira has written,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said. "This is one of the most challenging and dynamic characters I have ever seen, and I am thrilled to say we found our Claire in Ms. Hay.”
Casting director Bernard Telsey auditioned and reviewed more than 1,000 dancers for the role.
Added Walley-Beckett: "Finding the perfect Claire has been an almost impossible task. It was truly like looking for a unicorn because the demands of the role are so specific and challenging. I was looking for a beautiful and transcendent ballerina who is not only a brilliant dancer but also a gifted actress, and who also possesses a fierce curiosity and enthusiasm about the brave demands of the work. Sarah Hay embodies the role of Claire just as I dreamt her."
Starz will retain all domestic and international multiplatform rights, including TV, home entertainment and digital, on Flesh and Bone. Production will begin early this year in New York for a premiere in 2015.
For Starz, Flesh and Bone joins an original scripted roster that includes Black Sails, DaVinci's Demons, Power and Outlander as the premium cable network looks to have 75 hours of original programming per year over time. The drama comes more than six months after ABC Family canceled its critical darling ballet drama Bunheads, which starred Tony winner Sutton Foster.