July 22, 2018
MarkBernstein.org
 
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Flesh and Blood

Flesh and Bone, a series by Moira Walley-Beckett and partly written by the redoubtable Adam Rapp, is again available for streaming after a mysterious hiatus. It’s really good, if you can get past the obstacles.

It’s a story about a ballet dancer. That’s the first obstacle: it’s got eight hours to play with, and the shadow of The Company and The Black Swan and occasionally of Chorus Line sometimes looms over the writers.

Second, it understands that dance is about bodies, and that dancing is hard on bodies. There are a lot of bodies. Sometimes you’ll think, this is pornography. Sometimes, you're not entirely wrong.

There are missteps. Some of the pain is, I think, too painful to watch. The audience is a character too, of course, but where in Altman’s The Company the audience is by turns very stupid and deeply generous, here the audience is always ghastly and often despicable.

But this is a fascinating extended meditation on art, its painful sources, it's doubtful pleasures, and its costs. Everyone here is an artist: the dancers, the choreographers, the teachers. The drug pusher works out of an old factory in The Bronx where he makes huge sculptures. The street person, Romeo, who lives outside our apartment is working on a novel. This is one big story, it she is away from mere allegory, and in the end it’s realistically weird.