It's not too often a show is as beautiful as it is dramatic. But Netflix's newest series, Tiny Pretty Things, is just that. The dance-focused show is full of unexpected twists, major cliffhangers, and mesmerizing performances. While the show keeps you guessing until the very last second, one big question viewers don't have to wonder about is whether the actors are really dancing. Tiny Pretty Things star Damon J. Gillespie shines some light on the artists who brought the story to the screen.
In case this show's title sounds familiar, that's because the series is adapted from the 2016 novel of the same name by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra. The story follows a group of dancers fighting to become the prima ballerinas at their elite ballet school in NYC. It's basically like Gossip Girl, except instead of duking it out on the Met steps, they're doing it in the studio.
Warning: Light spoilers for Tiny Pretty Things Season 1 follow. As with most adaptations, some changes were made in the process of bringing the story to the screen. For example, in the book, the dance academy is in New York, but on the show, it's in Chicago. Though the change of location might ruffle a few feathers of hardcore fans, getting to actually see the dances onscreen definitely makes up for it.
Even better: According to Gillespie, the moves were actually performed by the actors, who are all trained dancers. "Anytime you see dancing, it's all us," he tells Elite Daily. "That was a big thing. If you couldn't do the choreography, you probably weren’t going to get cast. That's what this job required. That's what we were trained to do."
The series, which dropped on Netflix on Dec. 14, showcases a core group of dancers, including Gillespie's character Caleb, a rough-around-the edges dancer who will do anything (and anyone) to get ahead.
Gillespie is familiar with the cutthroat world of dance. His mom, who grew up dancing, put him in classes when he was just 3 years old, and he trained in a variety of styles for years. But unlike the competitive characters on the show, who will seemingly stop at nothing to outdo one another, Gillespie takes a more supportive approach with his fellow dancers IRL.
"Our corps dancers [on Tiny Pretty Things] were also trained ballerinas and dancers. All of them have been a part of different companies in Canada, the United States, and across Europe," Gillespie says. "Watching them dance was just spectacular, especially in ballet, because that's not my forte."
Even though the show centers around dancers, everyone had to be able to act as well, another skill Gillespie has mastered. Most recently, he played Mickey in The Society, so there's a good chance you've already seen his smoldering gaze on Netflix.
You can catch the results of Gillespie's lifetime of dance training, alongside his acting (as well as quite a few steamy hookup scenes), in Tiny Pretty Things, on Netflix now.