Can you keep a secret?
Sure you can. I trust you. We’ve been friends for some time now.
Look, I met this gorgeous chick who is well-respected, stunning, engaging, vibrant, popular, magical and athletic with nice strong super sexy feminine thighs.
She’s the girl who lives on the hill with very prominent and wealthy parents. I think I have a chance of dating her because so far she’s been receptive to my advances.
What’s my concern?
It’s my sordid past with some questionable friends (maybe like you) and trust me, once her parents do their homework, which they will, they are going to want their little princess to dance away from me as fast as she can.
I do have a small bit of hope though. What is that you ask?
After watching the brilliant Starz limited series, Flesh and Bone?
She and her parents are not perfect either.
As a potential suitor and partner to the world of ballerinas and contemporary dance, our female submission wrestling industry has a scarlet past filled with endless lovers.
We’ve been a bad boy.
We’ve made love in our parent’s room when they weren’t home, on the beach under the stars, in the girl’s restroom at the club, at group parties in stranger’s homes and virtually every other taboo scenario that you can think of.
But you know what?
If we hope to date the dancers, cheerleaders, fitness girls, CrossFit maidens, singers and others with prominent parents (mainstream schools, universities, private institutions) who through the Social Media can fly with us into the new corporate sponsored world so our female submission wrestlers can get more work……
We’re going to have to clean our act up.
I mean are you comfortable with the paltry number of real competitive events that are happening in our world? As of this writing, maybe twice in Germany, several times in England and twice in America and that’s about it.
Are you happy with that? We’re not.
So, we need to get to know the dance world better and we’ve invited some them out for coffee to well, get inside of their heads, not into their tights….at least not yet. Hey….it’s just coffee. Don’t read too much into much into that.
They are a cleaver bunch, those ballerinas. They don’t tend to give out a lot of information except the public relations kind.
So if mommy and daddy won’t talk to us and their sweet daughter is following script, how in the world do we find out their dirty secrets and questionable deeds?
We decided to turn to the world of television and film to see if we could get some behind the scenes insight. As we say in Bryan-College Station Texas, get some real scuttlebutt if you will.
So when I received this assignment, my initial fear was that I was going to have to sit through hours of the original TV series “Fame” and fall asleep within two minutes.
Hey no offense. I loved the cast. Truly. They’re good people. All 3,000,000 of them. It’s just that the show compares to the insights and realism of the dance world similar to how the original 21 Jump Street was “gritty and real” compared to producer Dick Wolf’s Law and Order.
So forget TV.
Let’s turn to movies and there is a plethora of them from Step Up The Dance to Step On Her Toes, Step On Her Cat or Shall We Dance, Shall We Prance, Shall We Go To France and the like. Admittedly in terms of realism, I found them with clichés in their eyes and in terms of providing us with real behind closed doors insight; walking around on ballerina tippy toes.
I loved the 1977 film classic Turning Point starring Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft with the IMDb synopsis, “Forced to give up ballet after becoming pregnant, Deedee (Shirley MacLaine) moved from New York to Oklahoma to raise a family with her husband (Tom Skerritt). When her old friend and fellow ballerina, Emma (Anne Bancroft), comes to town with her dance company and invites Deedee’s daughter, Emilia (Leslie Browne), to join.”
It was a movie exceptionally done but still it felt like, well………a movie.
Let’s move up the timeline. 1983 to be specific.
Okay there’s still hope.
How about Flashdance you say?
Look, anything featuring Jennifer Beales showing us how a gorgeous nubile young woman can take her bra off and leave her sweatshirt on has my attention.
That’s realistic isn’t it? Don’t you know girls who can do that?
So if we can get past the standard dance film props; the slobbery dog with the elevated paw, the middle aged influential rich boyfriend in between wives, the sexy young doe eyed girl with a dream from the grimy Pittsburgh neighborhood, the friendly Beta male with a cap (who the girl will never fall in love with) who is currently on the go everywhere – go nowhere tour and the troubled family with the grouchy crusty old dad.
Did I leave out any other standard dance film cliché props?
Oh yeah, there is another one. Out of desperation the star or her friend dance at a strip club.
All right Kemosabe, I think we covered that part.
So in my desperation to see what’s going on behind the scenes in the dance world I turned to Netflix and her documentaries. Well done for certain, but still there was a certain sterile distance to most of them.
We can’t give up hope if we are going to date this sensuous butterfly in flight.
Then a show caught me off guard.
I was flipping through Starz TV on cable and this poster attracted my eye.
Wow. I’m interested. Just the title alone was filled with possibilities of gritty realism. No Step Up To This or Prance To The That… That….That.
Flesh and Bone.
With a title like that……….I’m freakin’ in buddy!
So when it comes to dance on film, based upon the past clichés, I do have major trust issues.
We’re the standard former props going to be there?
The Starz series description was promising.
“After a long career as an acclaimed dancer, Paul Grayson founded the American Ballet Company, and he’s determined to make it rank among the world’s best artistic institutions. The key, he believes, is Claire Robbins, a transcendent ballerina, capable of reaching the sublime, but her inner torment and aspirations drive her in compelling, unforeseeable ways, especially when confronted with Paul’s ping-pong fits of ebullience and rage.
ABC’s mercurial leader requires his dancers’ abject devotion… to an extremely unhealthy degree. Infused by New York’s inherent drama, “Flesh and Bone” is a gritty, complex series that steadfastly explores the dysfunction and glamour of the ballet world.”
I’m beginning to trust a little more but once I start watching this cable dance celluloid, will I see the same old props?
Well, we didn’t get off to the greatest start.
Shall I control C the previous standard prop description?
I could with minor variations.
The dog didn’t slobber but it was incredibly small, supremely annoying and spoiled with a ribbon in her hair. For our purposes here we’ll call her Ribbonrena. The Dance Theater Countess (yes comparison to Dracula’s significant other) who noodled and nurtured her, most likely fed her caviar and had endless private conversations with her. The operative word is private.
No secrets spilled there.
There was another animal that came along later, that looked like a cross between a Lynx and a Leopard. After watching that pampered pet who no doubt had a private dog house right out of Paris Hilton’s brochure of Mansions For Precious Doggies, my hope was that I could invite little Ribbonrena into the same room with Lynx-Lep for a small bowl of coffee, close the door and lock it.
Please don’t look at me like that. You’re reading way too much into it.
Hey, it’s only coffee okay?
No animals were harmed during the writing of this story.
Next there was the rich influential middle age suitor, most likely in between wives who was as lecherous as they come, only he had a really sophisticated French accent, really cool jelled hair, designer suites, expensive ties and will give you flowers before he gives you something else.
Disappoint him and your large donation is history.
Ah, now to our starlit.
Yes she was a young, super sexy doe eyed princess, running away to the Big Apple with dreams of stardom and a permanent escape from her past.
Where was she from you ask? You already know.
Yes, she is from…….Wahlah!………PITTSBURG.
She can explain the towel waving thing, knows relatives who wear Steeler jackets and of course is from a grimy neighborhood with the angriest, grouchiest old beer guzzling dad with dried spit around his mouth that you can ever want to be someone’s…….anyone’s dad, except yours.
You even have to clean his poop and bathe him while he’s cursing you out.
Having said all of that, I still can’t figure why she ran away? Can you?
Interestingly since Femcompetitor Magazine has written numerous articles on America’s elite young dancers, they all have one thing in common.
None of them are from Pittsburgh.
Don’t worry. We are not forgetting the Beta cap wearing male, only this time he is homeless and instead of wearing a (insert: beer hat, fishing hat, Baseball cap worn frontwards or backwards is fine) cap, he’s wearing a beanie, solidifying his membership into the Beta Male Club. Oh, and there is absolutely no doubt about it. He is on the go everywhere – go nowhere tour.
At this point I’m starting to get a little scared. Is this going to be Flashdance Two the Sequel, only shot in New York via Pittsburgh….again? Are my dance film trust issues going to resurface?
Oh noooooooooooooooooooooo you didn’t. You gonna do this tah me? Ballet dance shoe program for you in Pelican Bay!!!!! You’ll nevah see the light of day!
They threw in the final cliché prop.
She and her friend became a little desperate for various reasons and what did they do?
Come on, you already know the answer. Please pull out your dance movie cliché calendar (tights optional).
Dance at a strip club, complete with the angry loud mouth stripper who constantly gives out advice that is either ineffective or information she poorly applied.
By now I’m ready to call my therapist. Despite that lofty introduction and deep stuff pontificating, it seems like they are going to fall back on the same old props.
Then something caught me off guard.
They threw in a few more props that were not from the dance cliché rack. It was raw and more importantly?
It felt real.
Now we get to see a few secrets. Finally.
Maybe it was a dream but I saw Jack Nicholson walking towards the star character Claire, complete with a slit in his nose, just like, right out of the film Chinatown. Given the status of the L.A. Lakers as of this writing, Jack seems to have a lot more time on his hands. He’s not a Beta Male because he’s wearing a Detective’s hat where you dodge bullets, get your nose slit and sleep with beautiful women.
He comes close to Claire, grabs her just like he did Faye Dunaway in Chinatown and begins to slap her!
Looking at the male with the dark hair (Pittsburgh jacket on) standing next to Claire, “Who is this man to you?!” Jack snarls getting ready to slap Claire. With tears in her eyes, poor Claire desperately responds, “He’s my brother.”
She screams, “He’s my father’s son.”
“He’s my lover!”
“He’s the father of my child!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Ah, Chinatown all over again. The clouds part and Jack gets it. He feels sympathy for Claire, straightens her up and takes her home to his mansion (tights optional).
For coffee of course.
Now we are on to something.
This is not dance PR as usual.
The fascinating series begins to evolve primarily through Claire’s eyes as we see what it truly might be like to perform in a ballet company and, as so many of them are, constantly seeking money and teetering on the brink of folding.
They need a star like Claire to save them.
There is jealousy, sexual black mail, constant ballerina firings, tension, theft, strained relationships and more; told in an absolutely mesmerizing way.
A few characters really stand out.
The founder is Paul Grayson, played magnificently by Ben Daniels, star of Law and Order UK.
He’s Dracula on Viagra only he comes out at night and in the sunlight as well, not only to drink the dancer’s emotional blood, but often to have sex with them too.
Unfortunately afterwards they won’t become immortal, but they do get to keep their job.
If Claire, played by real life ballerina Sarah Hay who was a dancer in the A-List Actress Natalie Portman’s Black Swan, is the star of the story, Grayson is the glue that absolutely holds both the fictitious story and the TV audience captivated with the series.
He’s tough, brutal, unfeeling, publicly insulting, demanding and volatile yet for anyone in this life who has tried to accomplish great things, taken risks and lives life above the mundane; you are absolutely rooting for him because you get it. You understand why he has to be that way.
To jazz things up they bring a hip, groovy, cool and “it chick” metro choreographer named Toni Cannava. With a name like that this babe has to be cutting edge with an edgy haircut to match.
Played with a steady hand by multi-award winning actress Marina Benedict, after taking one look at her it’s great to know that Brigitte Nielsen and Annie Lennox hair stylist is still employed.
To motivate the dance angels she encourages them to find “that dark secret you locked inside your sacred spaces” and speaks of a “cultural currency”.
Wow….breath in………..slowly breathe out, and give me some more of that Colorado weed (medicinal of course).
This is why we at Femcompetitor Magazine sooooooo badly want to see our female submission wrestling world and the dance community become partners. Aren’t you looking forward to the day where you can show up to an event and watch someone like me interview one our industry stars and say “Cheyenne (Penny, Daisy, Maria Queen, Mona), when you wrestle, you have a kind of cultural currency……”
Then you have the ethnic mobsters, child traffickers, body pounders who are united and with a lot of money that can help Grayson’s company stay afloat.
Scuttlebutt has it that these ethnic actors had difficulty saying “Ballet”, so they brought in Sonny Sheepston who is an exceptional pronunciation coach to the stars and taught them how to say, “Baaaaaah Lay. Baaaaaaaah Lay. Baaaaaaaaaah Lay.” (No sheep were harmed, barns burned down or grass poisoned during the production of this series).
SONNY SHEEPSTON ESQ
One more time, only slower in a much deeper, deeper, deeper voice. Slowly please.
We heard that the leadership at Starz really pulled off a coup to get Sonny to show up on such short notice. The reason why Sonny is in such high demand in Hollywood is because he’s not sheepish about saying what needs to be said and more importantly “how” to say it.
You see I’m sayin?
Oh boy I could go on, but if you want to get a feel for what the dance world is like behind closed doors; this series comes closer than anything I’ve ever seen.
I’m not saying it’s perfect. There were certain story lines I could have done without. Damon Harriman who starred in The Water Diviner directed by Russell Crowe, is a great actor who effectively portrays the homeless guy.
I just wished that a huge constipated New York pigeon who had been gorging on tourist droppings for a month and finally ate a load of prunes, fell out of the sky and hit the Beta homeless guy right on top of his head, thus smashing him out of the series early.
Anyway, that’s being picky.
What I loved most was the ending.
During the series we had bonded with the actors who are dancers in real life and acted brilliantly. You can’t help but care about them especially after what Grayson had put them through. When it came time for the opening night dance performance, I was privately terrified that we were going to get another cliché nervous breakdown.
We didn’t. It was magnificent, fantastic, magical and emotionally satisfying.
Claire’s performance was so believable I wanted to walk into my closet, throw a 1970’s scarf around my neck, sit down at the piano and in the best Gilbert O’Sullivan voice I could muster, get down on my knees and sing “Claire, Oh Claire….the moment I met you, I swear….)
Watching Flesh and Bone was like going to a fine restaurant, reservations only, dining on a fantastic meal with a unique desert, fine wine and going home with a ballerina (tights now optional).
Why is this so important?
We want the parents to give us the keys to the car when we take their prized princess out on a date with the hopes of one day partnering with her.
Our submission world is not the main stream world. We all know that.
The dance world, warts and all, is mainstream. They don’t need us.
We need them.
~ ~ ~
Sources: brainyquote.com, Wikipedia, fciwomenswrestling2.com, FCI Elite Competitor, photos thank you Wikimedia Commons.