Catapulting herself away from her abusive family home in Pittsburgh, Claire leaves behind her troubled past and gains entry into New York City’s prestigious American Ballet Company. Much to the other dancers’ dismay, Claire immediately becomes Artistic Director Paul’s new muse, creating new opportunities, and new enemies. Claire deals with pressures and insecurities in strange and destructive ways. In a gesture of friendship rare among the dancers, Daphne shares her secret passion (and ballet antidote) by including Claire in a visit to a high-end strip club, which only serves to reinforce for Claire all the things she is not, but hopes to be. At the season opening Gala, Paul ensures that Claire catches the eye of the ballet’s new Chairman of the Board, Laurent Brousseau, and Laurent agrees to commission a new ballet starring Claire. Although she’s fled her home, Claire’s past arrives unexpectedly to haunt her.
Claire attempts to sever ties with her brother once and for all in order to embrace the city and her new life, but unwanted male attention is forced upon her at every turn. Bryan, stymied by his inability to contact Claire and driven by his pressing need to see her, makes an educated guess and travels to New York to find her. Jessica struggles to manage Paul’s sudden change to the season and convinces him to engage a scintillating, cutting-edge choreographer to rejuvenate the fading ABC image. Aging prima ballerina Kiira proposes a plan to Paul in order stay in the limelight and races to Jasper’s to acquire what she needs to pull it off. Mia can’t hide her jealousy of Claire’s fast-rising success and worries that she doesn’t have what it takes. Claire is obliged to an evening encounter with Board Chairman, Laurent, that is more than she bargained for.
In the wake of the Board Chairman’s sudden departure as a result of a disastrous evening with Claire, Paul and Jessica are left scrambling to pick up the pieces and the company is thrust into financial jeopardy. But the show must go on. The arrival of edgy choreographer Toni Cannava intrigues and inspires the dancers, forcing Paul to mask his seething contempt and rising concern that his dancers’ affections are being usurped. Daphne enters into an unwelcome financial bargain with ABC in exchange for a promotion, while Kiira struggles to keep up appearances and hide her increasing drug use while rehearsing for “Rubies” with a nagging injury. Claire, desperate to become an ordinary girl who is sexually confident, seeks out Sergei at the strip club. Bryan’s arrival in New York electrifies Romeo, excites Mia, and emotionally upends Claire.
To Bryan’s dismay, Claire tries to expunge him from her New York City life. Meanwhile at the company Claire is challenged by the emotional vulnerability of Toni’s new choreography, sending her foraying deeper into the strip club world. Mia struggles with continued pain in her shoulder, and Ross feels the brunt of Paul’s insecurity about Toni’s success with the dancers – to a career-threatening extent. When Bryan discovers Claire’s involvement with the strip club, he muscles his way in to find her. But Claire is determined to brutally remove him from her life forever.
Claire and Kiira are pitted against each other and vie to become the face of the ABC season, while Trey attempts to remedy the rift between Paul and Ross, or so it appears. After an incident in rehearsal, Mia worries that her eating disorder is causing more than just weight loss, and her brassy, demeaning mother, Lainie, visiting from New Jersey doesn’t help. Mia also deals with the repercussions of her encounter with Bryan. Kiira returns to Jasper’s for a respite from her obligations and we further understand her marital dynamic. Claire and Daphne perform excerpts from a ballet at a private event held by Sergei, where Claire catches a glimpse of the despicable and dangerous activities in which the club-owner engages.
Thanksgiving arrives, and with it Paul’s neuroses, fraying the dancers’ nerves. He punishes the company for their simple desire to go home for the holidays and drives them to exhaustion. Claire ventures home to see her ailing father, Frank, and her brother Bryan, who she hasn’t seen since their last horrifying encounter in New York. Mia receives news on her medical condition and takes drastic action. Kiira endures the holiday with her in-laws and feels like a stranger in her own life. She also bears witness to Ross’s inability to right his situation with Paul. Claire’s visit home proves to be a cathartic experience in multiple ways but when she returns to New York she is confronted by new horrors.
Nudity, drugs, casual cruelty in arresting ballet drama.
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