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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Movies: Black Swan

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Thank you for the explanation. I did not know that. Overall I am still sad, because when it was a movie about baseball or football all the doubles are given way more credit....Even in music ("The pianist" or better "Shine").

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When there is a movie about sports, the athletes involved usually already have professional representation, who hire the right people, to make sure they get credited. I am guessing Miss Lane did not have the best representation.


I don't trust the press, I believe this whole thing may have been blown way up by the press. At least in the USA, the press long ago quit reporting news and have moved to producing news(imo).


One thing that has struck me on this topic, the number of folks who are concerned that the general public will believe that this movie is realistic in its portrayal of ballet, and that Natalie Portman actually transformed into a ballerina. Yes, there will be a few that don't have the IQ of a cucumber that believe that. Most people however, will not. I have a family reference for this. My cousin was an extra in a movie called Backdraft(he is a CFD firefighter), situated around the Chicago Fire Department. Now my cousin had lots of fun on this movie, but after it was over he did not run into alot of people, who thought that he ran around with his coat on fire and swung from fire escape to fire escape like a monkey using an ax, other than small boys who think that anyway. People for the most part know that hollywood is fiction. Even stories based on real events are mostly fluff added to sell the picture. This film won't do much damage to ballet, if any.

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^ Good points. I have a question. Slightly off-topic Do ballet dancers even have agents?? From what I have read on here and on other sites does not seem that agents are involved in getting into corps or even soloist/principal positions. I have read some ballet dancer bios and none ever mentioned an agent that was getting them work in dance. Even though Miss Lane is a soloist or principal at ABT, which is a good position, they may not even need representation to get those gigs so she would be used to dealing with her own contracts unless she normally had a lawyer to look over them.


Even very low on the totem pole film and theatre actors have agents/managers. In opera, singers that are getting good soloist work eventually have to get a manager--in both cases they cannot get the better auditions without having an agent/manager who is privy to that information. Any actor or singer working on a film would have their representation to deal with the contracts part of it.

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As far as I know, most ballet dancers do not use agents, but some of them might, especially if they work freelance, etc.


I also do not recall reading anything about Lane wanting more money, even in the very sensationalist, overblown, and frequently inaccurate coverage this issue has been given. Perhaps people have implied that she wanted more, but I have yet to see a quote from Lane to that effect.

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This is where Hollywood and all of it's associated stink can be called into play: Body doubles, as I'm sure Miss Lane was contracted to be, are a 'set' role and there are restrictions on just about everything in that regard. Personally, I would not sign a body double contract (not that anyone's currently offering :P ) but in my opinion, if you're ever in a movie- get a lawyer to help you understand the contract. And no, most ballet dancers do not have agents- they can ill afford them!


I agree with you sonny- love the cucumber comment!!!! :blink:

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And the saga continues! Just watched this link teasing the interview with Sarah Lane on 20/20 tonight. Great stuff. I am going to watch this tonight for sure. Given my knowledge of the broadcast business, and my limited knowledge about ballet technique, I have to say I definitely believe Ms. Lane. Now, I haven't seen the movie yet (I KNOW! I am waiting to rent it when I can watch it without my DDs) but I am sure that once I can do that and pause the movie in places, I will be able to detect the subtle additions of Ms. Portman's image, and certainly will be looking for them! It is truly amazing how far special effects have come in the industry in the past few years! I will say though that I am so disappointed in the way the movie industry behaves. Of course they always have been about self promotion - they created the star system and set so many actors up for self abuse in those days. Stretching the truth NOT a stretch for them I'm afraid. I am determined to watch the movie and make my final assessment, but IMO after listening to only part of Ms. Lane's interview, it's pretty obvious. :innocent:

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I also just watched the 20/20 teaser about Miss. Lane. I can see both sides of this controversy and both have good points. However, one thing that caught my attention after the teaser, when the anchors were chatting, was the type of contract Miss Lane signed. They made it sound as if she signed a document that wasn't specific as to how her role would be listed in the credits. "Stunt Double" couldn't be more inaccurate, IMO.


Yes, I believe Miss Lane deserves credit for her part, she's worked hard and earned it. On the other hand, this is a movie that wasn't about her, she was simply hired to do the job and was paid for it. Again, as sonnny72 so aptly put it, unless you have the IQ of a cucumber (love that!), I don't think people would believe that Ms. Portman did all the dancing. Who really thinks that all these Hollywood stars have so many, many varied talents that are all mastered to perfection? It's a story, albeit a dark one I haven't seen.


Perhaps the lesson here is for the dancers (experts in any field, really) to take a moment to have a contract clarified by a lawyer or agent prior to signing. Again, I can see both sides. The real winner here? The movie producers. You know what they say "Even bad publicity is publicity", this controversy is keeping the movie in the forefront of peoples minds. Some may even see it twice to try and watch the dancing more intensly.


Like you Mobadt, I am waiting to rent it when DD isn't home.

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I just feel she should have kept her mouth shut. She signed the contract, she's been to movies before where stunt and body doubles are used, so this should not have come as such a surprise. If she honestly though that her face was going to be seen she was more delusional that I thought.


And now it's time we let this go, move on, and when one of you bring us your new movie contract, we're going to highly recomend an entertainment lawyer to you. :(

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I enjoyed the movie for what it was, greatly actually. I think Natalie Portman did a fantastic job, deserved best actress, and really worked hard to do as well as she did. I sympathize with her hard work because I also am an adult who started late in my 20's and worked full time to be able to try and catch up - but as many people have said, there's just so much one can't cram into a year of study, intensive or not. I'm not sure what Ms. Lane hopes to achieve by bringing up this controversy; maybe recognition? While I agree that it's lame that the world can be tricked into believing that one year of training can *poof* turn you into a professional ballet dancer, it's not like it isn't Hollywood - isn't that what Hollywood is for? Suspension of belief? Editing and effects are so well done now that an audience wouldn't even hope to know when a body-double was used or not.


All I can say is, it's not like she (Nina Sayers) even did an actual "Odile" variation. Everyone admitted that the fouettés from the coda were Sarah Lane (and they even started out with a menage of piqués). Airplane arms, people... let's not forget Portman's airplane arms. That's at least one way we can tell whether it was Portman or Lane. Everytime I saw them, I thought, "WHEEEEE!"


-- Afterthought -- As many have mentioned before, no one talks about the stunt double who jumps off a cliff for Bruce Willis or Jason Statham. Dance doubles are stunt doubles. My worry is that this controversy might prevent future awesome dance movies by increasing a professional dancer's fear and trepidation of getting involved or collaborating on a film. The fact that the producers and PR folks were drumming up publicity points that may or may not have been true for Natalie Portman to win an Oscar is typical; however, the fact that Ms. Portman thanked hair, make up, AD's, etc. and not her only body double? Well that was just awful and suked.

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Saw the show as well....and LaFilleSylphide, I totally agree with your afterthought.


Perhaps I'm cynical here, but I'm not so sure that this whole controversy hasn't been engineered to keep us talking about the movie. If so, it is certainly working. The dynamics are starting to remind me of a certain SuperBowl. :(

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And now it's time we let this go, move on, and when one of you bring us your new movie contract, we're going to highly recomend an entertainment lawyer to you.


I have a contract! I'm the stunt double in the upcoming ballet film: 'The Swan Who Just Couldn't Do Petit Allegro'. The lead actress's limited time for training meant she just couldn't begin to approach my level of buffoonery.

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Perhaps I'm cynical here, but I'm not so sure that this whole controversy hasn't been engineered to keep us talking about the movie. If so, it is certainly working. The dynamics are starting to remind me of a certain SuperBowl. :(



I have to agree with this. And the DVD did just come out. The media loves that this is going on and can use Ms. Lane even more now. She's pretty and people will delight in portraying her as spiteful. Fortunately they include some of her remarks saying Ms. Portman deserves the award for her acting. But even if Ms. Lane is sincere in her wish to speak out for the integrity of ballet and dancers, she is being played. Maybe it's worth it? I don't know... I notice the choice of word they used to put as a caption under her picture in one of the articles that describes the interview. It just says "Bitter". Then you see a photo of the vulnerable looking and pregnant Miss Portman trying to graciously stay out of the whole thing. What is such a shame here is that the entertainment media is what has become powerful and the producers have all the money and lawyers and they are the experts at spin. Whoever said she should probably have kept her mouth shut is right. Hollywood is not nice territory to step into. And I don't think enough people know how much hard work is demanded of a student to become such a dancer to make the average person want to side with Ms. Lane, anyway. This is very unfortunate, but I think only people who really know dance will sympathize with this, and that's not a very big sector of the population. I have to say, though, I am very glad the truth about it is coming out for those who will listen.

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I have a contract! I'm the stunt double in the upcoming ballet film: 'The Swan Who Just Couldn't Do Petit Allegro'. The lead actress's limited time for training meant she just couldn't begin to approach my level of buffoonery.


This made me laugh out loud! Thanks for the reminder that I am not the only one :( Petit allegro is my least favorite part of class (which I love overall, but still...), maybe because I am tall and always feel like I can't get my legs to all the right places fast enough (yet). I'd buy a ticket to that film! :)

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^ Really? I watched. I don't think Ms. Lane came off well. I was very distracted by her poor speech. I counted 19 "you know"s in her short conversation. The video was only about 2.5 minutes! It didn't do anything to change my mind--I think she should have just kept quiet. Now I just have an image of her as an undereducated individual who has sour grapes because she wasn't given credit. I still don't think the majority of fans believe that Natalie did most of the dancing--most don't care. All kind of "spin" happens with movies.

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