Writer Gal Letter #2

Let’s Talk About Flesh And Bone

Let’s Talk About is a series of blog posts where Writer Gal gives her (unsolicited) take on pop culture – aka TV series and movies – that she shamelessly binge watches in the name of ‘research.’

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Sarah Hay and Sasha Redetsky in Flesh and Bone, Pilot

The greatest love will, of necessity, bring us great pain – Thomas Merton

As a writer of romance, this statement holds true on all accounts for me. Actually, to all of us, doesn’t it?

Hell, never mind romance. Let’s ask Edmund Hillary or Philippe Petit or even our homegrown awesome superheroes at ISRO who launched Mangalaayan with half the money in half the time if they had an easy time of it. Theirs was a labor of blood, sweat, and tears.

In 2015, the Starz original series Flesh and Bone (8 episodes, available on Netflix) finally became available. I’d heard buzz of it on, haha, Buzzfeed about a group of dedicated ballet artists who take on the prestigious American Ballet Company of New York by storm, all over again.

I was excited, and finally free enough to start watching it. I loved the first two Center Stage movies which were set at ABC. The movies were a bit cheesy, I agree but they showcased a delicate art form in a gorgeous way.

Flesh and Bone makes no such mistake. There is no cheese in the script. It is raw and violent and visceral. Am sure, most of it is an accurate portrayal of how things are run in the business but what really struck me about the whole new cast of characters (apart from the sexy Sasha Redetsky) was that all of them are driven. Driven, determined and damaged.

All of them have great personal pain that translates to a moving rendition of choreographed movements.

It begins with the carefully colored title sequence with a haunting melody by Karen O, interspersing ballet moves with high-heels and a bird taking flight and losing blood. The stark analogy is not lost on anyone who watches the pilot.

This story is about pain.

Period.

It continues with the very first shot, that of an upturned ballerina doll lying askew on the floor. There is something so very WRONG with the picture that one cannot help but be intrigued and worried at the same time.

All hallmarks of a good storyteller. (Flesh and Bone has been created by Breaking Bad alum Moira-Walley Beckett).

But the dance is at its riveting best when Claire Robbins ( Sarah Hay, Golden Globe nominee), the naïve but painfully graceful ingénue performs a solo adagio to Debussy’s Claire de Lune, at the behest of Paul Greyson the viciously demanding artistic director (he is not Peter Gallagher, that’s for sure) I could see that it was not just dance, not just chasing perfection that was making her eyes glassy with unshed tears.

She has a secret and it hurts her soul and gives her art a dimension it would not otherwise have. I won’t reveal what it is, but suffice it to say, this is NOT Center Stage Part 3. It’s fresh and interesting and dark AF.

Singers and dancers have always been revered and yet reviled, a fate that has escaped musicians and painters. I won’t include writers in any of these categories, because hey, I am writing the post.

A haunting melody, a moving lyric or a soulful tune has touched our soul in an ephemeral way that remains with us forever. And the people who create this art, this consumable art I would say have had the touch/don’t touch tag attached to them.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that singing and dancing have long been considered a domain of people who are not interested in true exaltation. Maybe singing and dancing have been associated with courtesans and troubadours from time immemorial giving the arts a less-than-perfect shine.

Maybe people are just that weird, I don’t know.

Flesh and Bone also deals with another important aspect of working in entertainment. What does it take to become a star? Is it just talent, good looks, casting couch or more?

Anyone in entertainment will tell you how hard it is to breakthrough.

The blood, sweat, and tears that we put into ourselves (yes, now I include us writers) whether it is just to write that novel, or sell it, never mind market it into a bestseller will make an ordinary Joe weep. Yet, we plod on for the love of it. Even if it causes us great pain.

Tara Trivedi from The Perfect Fake has to answer this question: how far are you willing to go in order to get what you want? How much blood, sweat, and tears is she willing to shed?

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To find out more, read The Perfect Fake, when it comes out in July 2018.

Till next time,

XX

Writer Gal

 

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