Flesh and Boner: What the Starz Series “Flesh and Bone” is Really About

By Bethany Leger

I’m a millennial. I wasn’t born in the 50s. I realize that premarital sex, drug use, eating disorders, domestic violence, stripping, incest, and self-injury are common features of modern day society. But just because my generation created a show out of this stuff, doesn’t mean I’m on board. Oh, and did I mention the main thread that supposedly ties the whole plot together is ballet? If you’re looking for a balanced, realistic view of the ballet world, it would be a grave mistake to form your impressions solely through the lens of “Flesh and Bone”. The show isn’t really about ballet, and despite many a hipster’s passionate argument that it’s about art and life; it’s not a “brilliant”/“genius” creative breakthrough either. It’s all about ratings—just a sweaty pot of debauchery and shock value.

flesh-and-bone-dancers-imageFirst, I’m a former ballet dancer. I didn’t dance for “the frickin’ Bolshoi”, but I have a long history with NYC and the dance community spanning from coast to coast, and I taught ballet for seven years. I’ve interviewed famous principal dancers, collaborated with artistic directors, danced beside guest professionals, had my toenails fall off from dancing on pointe, lived in many studios, stages, audiences, and in the wings. I know a thing or two. I’ve even seen a few of the show’s stars, Sascha Radetzky and Irina Dvorevenko, perform live. Second, I’m pushing 30, I’m married, I had a friend die from heroin, I struggled with an eating disorder in high school, I had a friend who stripped in her early twenties, I’m fully aware incest and other sexual abuse exists, and I’ve seen slit wrists up and close. Not only do I have experience in the ballet world, (which most of the trolls on the message boards don’t), I don’t live in La La Land either. Life can be rough. “Flesh and Bone”, however, in its attempt to combine all these taboos with tutus, is just all kindsa’ wrong.

12622_oriIf I’m going to play Devil’s advocate, I can see its appeal from a couple of angles: one, non-dancers are genuinely curious about ballet dancers’ lives because the ballet world is largely mysterious. If it weren’t for YouTube and other social media, the everyday operations of a ballet company would be buried along with Balanchine—exclusive and inaccessible. After all, most people don’t wear leotards to work. They want to know if the urban legends of bleeding toes and sleeping with the director are true. I get that. (For the record, dancers toes do bleed, and the casting couch is not an impossibility.)

c190f8f334c858cd6f2e60f4e9de610fOn the other hand, sex sells. And that’s unfortunately—depending how you feel about it—the problem. Yes, dancers have sex lives and walk around naked in dressing rooms. Nothing inaccurate about that. But when phallic slang, midday romps with boy toys, and pissy naked roommates leave more of an imprint in your brain than the subject itself—ballet—it means the producers are lazy. Seriously, when you spotlight a prima ballerina snorting coke before each class, the masses will automatically be wondering the next time they take their daughter to see the Nutcracker if the Sugar Plum Fairy has a deviated septum. Even if these scenes and story lines reflect some of the realities of the ballet world, the show isn’t an artfully crafted, thoughtful vehicle for educating the outside world about the profession. Rather, it’s one giant, gratuitous cheap shot that plays on the ignorance of the general population. I made it through the first episode only because I had access to a fast-forward button. After half-watching the lead character’s brother tame the dragon to her beloved childhood heirloom, I won’t try to stomach another one.

960I’m over my generation’s fascination with the Natalie Portman-ballerina. The tortured ballerina is so passé. If this makes me anti-progressive or un-hip, so be it. I’ll be joining the old folks down at Lincoln Center for some true artistry.

 

About the Author

HeadshotBethany Leger taught ballet for 7 years in Dallas, TX. She is the founder of Ballet For Adults, a site dedicated to educating adults about ballet at Ballet For Adults.com.

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SAMO

Written by Afrika Brown, F.A.M.E NYC Editor and Founder

Tears etch scars down my cheeks

Fresh blood, new death each week

Black bodies and Blue justice gone viral

New day but its HIStory we rival

We scream no justice, no peace

We create footsteps in the streets

Covering the prints of elders before

But what really lies at the core

Is it my melanin?

The place I live in

The coiled roots of my dome

Or the fact that this land was never my home

We contribute to the prosperity of red, white and blue

But Uncle Sam don’t give a damn ‘bout folks with my hue

Occupy Wall Street, Hands Up –Don’t Shoot

And while we “die-in” stores, corporations still get loot

Weren’t we sick and tired with Fannie Lou Hamer

Technologies advance with frozen minds, it don’t get no stranger

Are we the problem or the solution?

The cure or the pollution

Maybe we are everything you see

Cause this land made for you and me

Is a whore born out of hypocrisy

A blind lady holding up scales

The bitch is deaf too and dead men tell no tales

Seventeen watching Rodney King

Twenty –two years, new video, same sting

Can you see the ring I’m trying to paint?

Full circle of blood smeared and stained

With the crimson of Mike Brown, Sean Bell, Trayvon

Amadou, Anthony Baez… do I have to go on?

No, I don’t need to go any farther

Cause the tombstones go past Eric Garner

Unarmed man blasted in a project stairwell

And still you don’t think Jim Crow ain’t alive and well

Dead black men just pictures on your TV

Not too different from black men swinging on trees

They called them strange fruit

KKK, zealous pigs, identical boot

Bearing down our larynx

Shouting NEXT GENERATION…NEXT

So I can’t trust the boys in blue

Or the boys in blue

And red bandannas who

Fit the criminal profile

But wait…we all fit the profile

Of being descendants of the three-fifths lifestyle

Cause when these laws were being made

My great-grandparents were slaves

For a country made for you and me

It’s been slow in spreading equality

And while the twentieth century is written about in books

The new millennium carries the shadow of a familiar look

And while CNN tries to discover who really is the foe

I say it’s just the ghost of SAMO

 

The Illusionists Bring Their Magic to The Great White Way

One can be inclined to say that magic happens every night on Broadway.  Each performance brings the audience into new worlds and is always different than the night before.  There is nothing more exciting than seeing a live performance, that is until you add the heighten sensation of watching someone try to wiggle themselves out of a straightjacket suspended high above the stage or shoot an apple off a woman’s head, all to the beat of some funky music and pyrotechnics shooting from the stage.   And if that’s your bag, then a night of captivating thrills and pulsating amusement are guaranteed when you step into the Marquis Theater for The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible.

Gone are men in penguin suits and top hats pulling rabbits out of a hat and drawing multi-hued scarves out of their pockets.  The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible has all the slickness and pomp of a Las Vegas show, the sounds of hot, pumping dance party and the satisfaction that makes the ticket well worth the price.  Most of the tricks performed have been around for decades; however The Illusionists give them a 21st century injection that gives them a fresh appeal.

The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible is an ensemble of seven magicians each a specialist in his field.  Adam Trent, known as The Futurist, combines dance, comedy and pizzazz to create a routine that is eye-catching and innovative.  If Liberace and Ethel Merman had a son, he would probably be Jeff Hobson, The Trickster.  He is the epitome of showmanship.  His tricks are only rivaled by his wit, which leaves the audience in stitches.  Following the legacy of Harry Houdini, Andrew Basso, The Escapologist, death-defying stunts dare to look the grim reaper in the eye and smile.  No one can resist the temptation of watching someone put their life on the line on a nightly basis.  Dan Sperry creates a cocktail of Goth, wry humor and trickery that is sure to creep you out your seat as The Anti-Conjuror.  You will squirm and be mesmerized at the same time.  Who doesn’t like a good man sawed in half trick?  The Inventor, Kevin James, revamps this old school classic with new school charm.  Silent but spectacular Aaron Crow, The Warrior, kicks magical ass.  Yu Ho-Jin is called The Manipulator and his moniker couldn’t be more appropriate.  If we were in a different century he might be going up before a council for witchcraft that is how convincing he is.  His style and approach to performing gives the impression of almost being supernatural, it’s like his tricks are an extension of himself.  It is beguiling and beautiful.

The Illusionists hail from U.S., Italy, Belgium and South Korea and have been featured on The Disney Channel and NBC’s America’s Got Talent and are the future of magic.  It’s a fun show that is great for a family night, an evening with friends or a date.   Witness The Illusionists while they are still on Broadway, I’m sure they will conjure a smile on your face as they did mine.

Photo courtesy of The Illusionistslive.com

9/11 Reflected Through Color – The Art of Ken Kaminski

One of my favorite childhood fables was the story of Henny Penny.  What always stuck with me was the repeated use of the phrase, “The sky is falling.”  It was the first time I was ever confronted with a tale that dealt with hysteria.  How could I had known that one day I would feel driven to scream those exact words, but when I saw the twin towers ablaze and the mayhem that was unfolding in real time as we helplessly watch on TV,  I felt like that manic chicken wrought with panic and fear.  September 11, 2001 is a mental scar I’ll always carry with me.

20140825_184212As intense as the memories are of that day, I can scarcely remember any color with the exception being the perfect blue sky that offered the delusion that nothing that terrible could befall us.  What I remember most are the feelings that coursed through me at rates so fast I could barely record them, terror firmly placing a grip around my neck, anxiety tapping Morse code up and down my arms, disorientation mushrooming in my brain and grief taking possession of my heart.  I returned home from my job, where we had to evacuate because of a bomb threat, turned on my TV and laid down on my bed to hear the sounds of faint whistles from dying firemen.  I felt absolutely defeated.

The tragedy of 9/11 left this country reeling and sent us all on our own journeys as we tried to reconcile what happened.   Ken Kaminski’s journey took him to the canvas creating a series of work that spans well over a decade. Using the template of abstract expressionists like Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Emerson Woefler, Kaminski has attempted to record the events and emotions of that day as well as the recovery period that continues to shape us. His efforts also allow those who are too young to remember 9/11 the ability to witness the emotion of that day.

20140825_183455FAMERS I am here to report that his endeavors are wildly successful.  I had the pleasure of viewing a few of Kaminski’s 9/11 paintings at the Edward Williams Gallery, located at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Hackensack campus. The exhibit includes eight selected works that brilliantly convey the events of that day brightly expressed in various hues. The exhibit begins with Blue Sky Day – triptych.  This three panel painting brings you face to face with speed of these flying bombs and the majestic sky that it corrupted. With each panel the viewer sees the countdown of the planes getting closer and closer until it hits making its bloody and destructive impact.

20140825_183549911 The Moment It Happened is an eerie mix of color.  The space surrounding The World Center no longer is colored in blue like the atmosphere painted in Blue Sky Day, instead the blue is muddled with streaks of different colors showing the chaos that followed the impact of the first plane, represented in an explosion of oranges and reds bursting from the side of the tower.  Streams of black cover one of the towers like a foreshadowing of despair to come.

20140825_183614Blindsided shows the line of fire going straight into one of the towers then blasting out of the other side.  Crippled from the blow, the tower bends and the pain is obvious.   All that is missing is the scream, but if you remember the sound of the planes hitting the towers, then this painting will ensure that the awful roar of the plane echoes in your ears.  Blindsided is an acute observation of a drive-by.

20140825_183653Twins! is a stoic, almost haunting, vision of The World Trade Center towers before 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001.  They were proud and victorious, a symbol of might and power.  They represented everything that was great about The Big Apple.  In Kaminski’s painting they appeared alive and vibrant again instead of frozen as they are in photographs.  The yellow background also contributes to the energy of the piece.  It makes you long for the nostalgia of what used to be.  If this painting were a song, it would be called The Way We Were.

20140825_183844Wounded Towers is a kaleidoscope of disorder.  The colors vividly capture the confusion permeating the area as people scrambled for safety and the bent, smoldering towers desperately tried to remain the symbols of glory that they once were, a last valiant effort before they ultimately disintegrated into dust.

20140825_183922Collapse is engulfed in a blending of hues that bring chills to the spine.  The voices of those who were lost don’t just whisper, they shriek.  It shows the true potential of visual art.  There are no words necessary, this painting is one of the most telling portraits of pain and suffering that I’ve ever saw.  If someone wanted to understand the mood of the country when the tragedy of 9/11 occurred, all they would have to do is view this painting.

20140825_184108Considering this year will mark the 13th anniversary of 9/11, I believe Kaminski’s exhibit couldn’t visit the New York metropolitan area at a better time.  It allows another way for us to remember and venerate a day that will forever be a part of our history.  Kaminski’s work carries with it a raw, emotional ambiance.  It pulls you in.   No matter how hard the visuals may be to look at, Kaminski’s work burst past your pupils and forces you to deal with whatever memories or residual feelings you may have buried.   For as much as Kaminski’s work is steeped in tragedy, it is also immersed in the resilience of the city of New York and its people.  Yes, the sky did fall, but we didn’t get mired in the pain.   We stood atop the ashes; we rebuilt and honored those we lost.   The 9/11 paintings are not only powerful and healing; they are a testament that when an artist creates from his or her soul the work that is generated is timeless.

 

To learn more about Ken Kaminski and view more of his work check out, http://www.kenkaminski.com/.  Kaminski’s 9/11 Paintings will be on display at the Edward Williams Gallery, located at 150 Kotte Place, Hackensack NJ, until 9/26/14.  Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

Photos and Video: F.A.M.E NYC Editor

Under My Skin Ticket Giveaway

That’s right FAMERS, it’s contest time!

F.A.M.E NYC is giving away a pair of tickets for Under My Skin, the new comedy in previews at The Little Shubert Theatre.  This production takes the battle of the sexes to new heights.  And one of you FAMERS could be the lucky winner if you can answer this question…

What iconic blue-eyed singer from Hoboken N.J. recorded a rendition of “I’ve Got You under My Skin?”

 The winner will be announced on Good Friday at 5 p.m.

Happy spring and good luck!

Hurricane Sandy One Year Later

Last year this time I had no electricity.  I was disconnected from family, friends and the entire world.  I was on the road maneuvering around downed trees and power lines, searching for non-perishable food to feed my parents and myself as well as gas to feed my vehicle. Anxiety was starting to settle in; my gas gauge was at a quarter of a tank and I had no idea when the gas trucks would arrive.  Darkness was descending and my Blackberry’s battery life was dwindling.  It had been a long time since I had been frightened on Halloween.  I felt as if I was starring in my own post-apocalyptic drama.

When Sandy hit the NYC-Metro area I, like many others, was ill-prepared.  I heard the warnings but I didn’t take them seriously.  I didn’t run out and stock up on canned goods, candles and water.  This is NYC and New Jersey I thought, we’ll be fine.  Around 8:30 that evening my home went dark.  From my windows I watched the transformers blow one by one, sparking electric flashes of blue light.  One by one I watched as the surrounding blocks and homes in my neighborhood lost the life source of the 21st century.  As I stared into the candlelight illuminating my bedroom, wondering what time it was, I was suddenly humbled by the tremendous power of Mother Nature.  Two days after Halloween, the lights in my house came back on and I was able to view the full devastation of what Sandy had left in her wake. I was thankful that Sandy only cost me a few days of inconvenience, but horrified and saddened to see and hear the stories of those who had lost everything.

As the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approached a feeling invaded the air, it was almost palpable.  A year later and many of us have had the opportunity to go back to normal.  For some the ghost of Sandy still lingers, still possessing a stranglehold on their lives.  Recovery is slow going but I stand firm in the belief that those who were severely affected by the storm will receive the resources necessary to rebuild.  One thing I know about this area is we may get knocked down, but we get back up better than before.

Photo: Getty

Daniel Craig Bonds with NYC

Martinis are a staple with 007 and so are luxury cars.  Daniel Craig showed off the latest that Range Rover had to offer last night as he whipped the all-new Range Rover Sport through the streets of The Big Apple as part of a short film titled The Delivery, directed by acclaimed action director Jonathan P B Taylor.  The film tells the story of a driver tasked with delivering the car through the streets of New York, over Manhattan Bridge to the car’s official unveil reception.  Craig used his precision driving skills to maneuver through the closed-off blocks of the city, delivering the car live to a packed crowd.

New York is Range Rover’s biggest metropolitan market and the Range Rover Sport is Land Rover’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S.   The all-new Range Rover Sport is the fastest, most agile and technology packed Land Rover ever.   All-new high strength aluminum structure provides a weight savings of approximately 800 lbs. over the previous generation Range Rover Sport.   It also touts a superbly crafted, luxurious interior and choice of 340 hp supercharged V6 or 510 hp supercharged V8 engines.

 Photo:  PRNewsFoto/Land Rover

Bring On the Seamen, the Navy Takes Over NYC

May 26 marks the official start of Fleet Week 2010 in New York City.  Fleet Week is a US Navy, Marine  Corps and Coast Guard tradition that spans over 70 years.  Fleet Week began in New York City in 1984.  Each year active military ships deployed in overseas operations dock in the Hudson Harbor for one week, releasing tons of US approved beefcake loose on the streets of Manhattan.  Besides the sight of all those lovely sailors walking about in their Navy dress whites, Fleet Week is filled with lots of fun free activities.  Below is a list of the 2010 Fleet Week Events.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010:

8:30 am
Parade of Ships
Where: Hudson River on Manhattan’s west side

7 pm
USMC Flyover at NY Mets game
Where: NY Mets Field

Thursday, May 27, 2010:

8 am-5 pm
Free Ship Tours
Where: Pier 88, 48th St/West Side Highway
Where: Stapleton Pier, SI

7-9 am
USMC display
Where: USS Intrepid (Please Note: this is not a free event)

8 am-6 pm
F-18 Flight Simulator
Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Display
USCG Static Displays
Where: Pier 88, 12th & 46th St
Where: Homeport Pier, Staten Island (Static Display)

9-9:30 am
Flag Raising & Morning Colors
Where: New York Public Library

10 am-noon
USMC MAGTF Air/Ground Demo
Location: Coney Island, Brooklyn

11 am-noon
SI Blessing of the Fleet
Where: SI Piers

11 am-1 pm
USCG SAR Helo Demo
Where: NY Harbor near Homeport Pier, SI

6-8 pm
Marine Forces Reserve Band Concert
Where: Central Park Band Shell

Friday, May 28, 2010:

8 am-5 pm
Free Ship Tours
Where: Pier 88, 48th St/West Side Highway
Where: Stapleton Pier, SI

8 am-6 pm
F-18 Flight Simulator
Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Display
USCG Static Displays
Paramount Top Gun Video Kiosks
ONR Static Display
Where: Pier 88, 12th & 46th St
Where: Homeport Pier, SI (Static Display)

9 am-4 pm
USMC Day in Times Square
Where: Times Square

11-11:30 am
USCG SAR Helo Demo
Where: NY Harbor near Homeport Pier, SI

2:30-6 pm
USMC MAGTF Air/Ground Demo
Where: Orchard Beach, Bronx

5-6:15 pm
Navy Band Northeast performs at Times Square
Where:  Times Square

Saturday, May 29, 2010:

8 am-5 pm
Free Ship Tours
Where: Pier 88, 48th St/West Side Highway
Where: Stapleton Pier, SI

8 am-6 pm
F-18 Flight Simulator
Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Display
USCG Static Displays
Paramount Top Gun Video Kiosks
ONR Static Display
NRD NY Static Display
Where: Pier 88, 12th & 46th St
Where: Homeport Pier, SI (Static Display)

9 am-4 pm
Marine Day
Where: Battery Park

Noon-1 pm
MWR Intrepid Cup Sports Tug-O-War
Where: Intrepid Pier

1-3 pm
Navy Band Northeast Concert
Where: Staten Island Pier

Sunday, May 30, 2010:

8 am-5 pm
Free Ship Tours
Where: Stapleton Pier, SI

8 am-5 pm
USMC Static Display
Where: USS Iwo Jima

8 am-6 pm
NRD NY Static Display
Where: Staten Island Piers

8 am-6 pm
USCG Static Display
Where: Homeport Pier, Staten Island

9:30-11:30 am
Catholic Mass
Where: St Patrick’s Cathedral

Noon-2 pm
MWR Intrepid Cup Jousting Competition
Where: Intrepid Pier 86

4 pm
Pier 88 Static Displays
Where: Pier 88, 12th & 46th St.

6-7:15 pm
Navy Band Northeast in Times Square
Where: Times Square

Monday, May 31, 2010:

8 am-5 pm
Free Ship Tours
Where: Pier 88, 48th St/West Side Highway
Where: Stapleton Pier, SI

8 am-5 pm
USMC Static Display
Where: USS Iwo Jima

8 am-6 pm
F-18 Flight Simulator
Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Display
USCG Static Displays
Paramount Top Gun Video Kiosks
ONR Static Display
NRD NY Static Display
Where: Pier 88, 12th & 46th St
Where: Homeport Pier, SI (Static Display)

9:40-11 am
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Day Observances
Where: Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, Riverside Dr & 89th St, Staten Island

10am-4pm
Raising Citizens: Meet & Greet with US Military
Where: Children’s Museum of Manhattan

10am-4pm
Sailors and Marines at the Bronx Zoo
Where:  Bronx Zoo

11 am-2 pm
Kings County Memorial Day Parade
Where: 3rd Ave & 87th St, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

11 am-2:30 pm
Allied Veterans Memorial Day Parade
Where: Ridgewood/Glendale, NY

11 am-6 pm
Staten Island Memorial Day Parade
Where: Hart Blvd/Forest Ave

12-1 pm
Manhattan Memorial Day Parade
Where: Broadway/Dyckman Streets

2-5 pm
Memorial Day Parade: Bronx City Island
Where: City Island, Bronx

Tuesday, June 1, 2010:

8 am-5 pm
Free Ship Tours
Where: Pier 88, 48th St/West Side Highway
Where: Stapleton Pier, SI

8 am-6 pm
F-18 Flight Simulator
Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Display
USCG Static Displays
Paramount Top Gun Video Kiosks
ONR Static Display
NRD NY Static Display
Where: Pier 88, 12th & 46th St
Where: Homeport Pier, SI (Static Display)

8 am-noon
USMC World Trade Center Run
Where: Federal Hall to Ground Zero

3-4 pm
USMC Reenlistment / Promotion Ceremony
Where: WTC Site

7 pm
Karaoke Party at the Hard Rock Restaurant
Where: Times Square

The ships and service members will depart from the harbor on June 2.  Happy Fleet Week, and to all the single ladies of Manhattan, happy hunting!