The greatest strength of the eight-episode miniseries — created by Moira Walley-Beckett and executive producers Lawrence Bender and Kevin Brown — is the Golden Globe-nominated performance by lead actress Sarah Hay, a 28-year-old soloist for the Dresden SemperOper Ballett in Germany. Hay’s portrayal of Claire Robbins, a rising star in the fictional American Ballet Company, is well deserved of both attention and praise.
On Jan. 10, Hay should win the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television.
Flesh and Bone’s first episode, "Bulling Through," there are very few spoken lines. Yet, Hay conveys Claire’s essence beautifully. Throughout the course of the series, Hay often uses gestures, facial expressions and ballet’s unspoken language in lieu of conventional dialogue, proving silence can be more powerful than words. This type of acting takes many seasoned performers years to perfect — yet, Hay successfully accomplishes it in her first role.
Her performance is original
In the series, Paul Grayson, artistic director of the fictional American Ballet Company, says, “Ballet is the ultimate optical illusion. We make effort to appear effortless.” No truer words can be said of Hay’s skill as a ballerina and an actress. She effortlessly transcends Claire’s character from a frightened young girl, who compares herself to the children’s story The Velveteen Rabbit, to a strong, courageous woman. Currently, there is no performance similar to that of Hay’s on television.
Hay’s novice performance is breathtaking. Because of her background as a ballerina (she has been training since she was 5 years old), Hay molds the character of Claire Robbins into a complex and engaging woman. While Natalie Portman’s Nina strains against impending stardom in Aronofsky’s Black Swan, Hay’s Claire labors to find her independence from her tragic past. If Natalie Portman’s lead was deemed worthy of recognition by the Foreign Press, then Hay’s should be just as esteemed.
You certainly cannot look past who Hay is outside of her role in Flesh and Bone. Considered curvy for a dancer and criticized by ballet companies in America, she sought out work in the European community, which was more accepting of her physique. She is comfortable with her size and has stated in an In Style interview, “Women should be happy with their bodies. Not being afraid of yourself is very empowering.” Hay is the kind of role model young women can most certainly admire.
Her performance is unforgettable
Claire’s journey in Flesh and Bone forces her to come to terms with her dark past and present, including her abusive and alcoholic father, incestuous relationship with her brother and exploitive relationship with her artistic director at the ballet. She overcomes and breaks the chains through her own strength. Hay’s subtle performance as Claire as a survivor is spellbinding. Long after the series was over, I simply could not get Claire out of my head. I certainly imagine the Foreign Press feels the same.
I look forward to seeing Hay receive proper recognition for her work at the 73rd Golden Globes.
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