Ballet is making headlines this week, thanks to a newly launched fellowship for women choreographers and the first trailer for “Flesh And Bone,” the new Starz ballet drama from former “Breaking Bad” writer/executive producer Moira Walley-Beckett. Encouragingly, the preview reveals that the show won’t shy from exposing sexism in ballet.
A Degas-like ballerina — or more recently, the fierce and fabulous Misty Copeland — is the iconic image we associate with ballet. However, women continue to be underrepresented behind the scenes, especially in choreography. Hence, the Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Choreographers was announced on Monday at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University. Its aim is to increase the number of female choreographers in ballet. The fellowship will offer three candidates a stipend of $35,000 in addition to office and studio space, access to housing in New York, and a network of other artists and scholars.
“We’re in a position to create a kind of opportunity and staging ground for women who want to be choreographers or who are choreographers and need a place to explore a piece that they’re working on, to really have a moment where they can do research,” said Jennifer Homans, director of the Center for Ballet and the Arts. Homans suggested that the fellowship will help to change the status quo in ballet, a world where women aren’t often encouraged “to explore that aspect of their creativity.”
The fellowship sounds like an excellent opportunity to empower aspiring female ballet choreographers. Ballet culture is, of course, notoriously demanding and high-stakes, and anything short of perfection is often viewed as abject failure — a harsh reality reflected in Walley- Beckett’s new series.
“Flesh And Bone” focuses on Claire (Sarah Hay, “Black Swan”), a self-destructive ballerina with a complicated past and a promising future. The intense trailer for the series shows Claire auditioning for a prestigious New York City-based ballet company, and though she gains admittance, Claire isn’t exactly welcomed with open arms. “Who’s that wide-eyed little thing?,” asks one particularly unimpressed dancer.
Joining the ranks of these elite ballet dancers doesn’t look like it offers a happy ending for Claire — just the beginning of more drama. Besides the incredible footage of dancing in the trailer, we also see screaming, drugs and blood.
Walley-Beckett wrote — and received an Emmy for — one of the darkest episodes of “Breaking Bad,” “Ozymandias.”
“Flesh And Bone” premieres on Starz on November 8.
[via The New York Times]