Seeing Ballet Stars on Starz

The Starz TV series “Flesh and Bone,” a fictional show about the dark side of pro ballet, is gritty, dramatic and—YAY!—full of real dancers. Sarah Hay, a Dresden Semperoper Ballett second soloist, plays Claire, a newbie in the American Ballet Company trying to find her way. Former American Ballet Theatre principal Irina Dvorovenko and former ABT soloist Sascha Radetsky play senior company members. Look closely and you’ll even see a few Alex Wong cameos.

Sarah Hay in "Flesh and Bone" (photo by Patrick Harbon, courtesy Starz Entertainment)

But warning: “Flesh and Bone” is not for the faint of heart. Its very adult themes mean you should probably ask your parents before watching an episode. And for the dancers in the show, many of the scenes were also pretty intense to create. Luckily, though, the filming process wasn’t always grim. Dance Spirit spoke with a few “Flesh and Bone” dancers to find out what things were really like on set.

“In order to deal with the show’s dark content, I’d write a ‘song of the day’ each day using insider jokes or elements from the episode we were filming. I have almost an entire album of hits, including ‘Cotton Ball Doggy,’ ‘Dressing Room Friday Nights’ and ‘Unicorn Pajamas.’ They’d get stuck in everyone’s heads—for better or worse!” —former Boston Ballet apprentice and Broadway dancer Emily Tyra, who plays Mia

“One afternoon, while we were shooting a company rehearsal,

Bryan Cranston, from ‘Breaking Bad,’ stopped by the set. He was completely charming and expressed a real interest in ballet and an admiration for dancers. At one point, as if he’d been practicing his entire life, he slid into an impeccable fifth position.” —former ABT soloist Sascha Radetsky, who plays Ross

“Physically, it was exhausting. Some days were close to 13 hours long. We all took class in the morning and then filmed our dance scenes, which were followed by the pure acting scenes at the end of the day. It was crazy to have to land an assemblé on a perfect mark and deliver lines. There were no stand-ins!” —freelance dancer Karell Williams, who plays Trey

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