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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Movies: Black Swan


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luceroblanco

Last thing I'm going to say about the "old direction" of this thread, which was largely focused on Ms. Lane. Stecyk and I took our further discussion to PM.

 

I think it was Clara who said it earlier in the thread that she would never do a double contract, probably for the very reasons we have been discussing--that your talent is not recognized or acknowledged in the film. Even if all of the hoopla over Ms. Lane just dies out and has no effect on her future whatsoever, I don't think that it is going to convince filmmakers to give more credit or recognition to stunt people or dancers. I personally do not think it is necessary--and I know some people disagree with that. For me, if I wanted to dub someone's voice as a singer, I know what it entails and if I need the money, I'd take it, and having the recognition is not something I would need.

 

If anything comes out of this (and perhaps I am too cynical) it might place more of a limit on stunt people/dancers/stand-ins by adding gag clauses and further limitations in their contracts. (I'm not blaming Ms. Lane for this--and maybe that might not happen). What I think is important though, is that perhaps the ballet community or the "concert dance" community should do some kind of free online workshop and/or articles about contracts on Broadway and in Film just so that dancers who decide to go that route are more aware, since most of those in "concert" dance do not have agents or managers or go to workshops in those industries where you learn about those kinds of things. Or at the very least point out in Dance Magazine or some other entity where they can get the information.

 

People can rally for Ms. Lane or they can disagree with her actions, but if nothing comes of it, the next step is to prepare other dancers to deal with a similar situation.

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LaFilleSylphide

So this isn't about the credit, but about the "truth" - that no actress can become a ballerina in a year. That's not Natalie Portman dancing! Truth out! Right... I think the issue itself is valid, the problem is that it's not a new concept, the idea of using doubles for stunts, dancing, voice, etc. The new thing here is the fact that Ms. Lane felt the need to educate the world that it wasn't Natalie Portman dancing. The dance doubles in Center Stage didn't voice their indignation over Zoe Saldana being portrayed as a ballerina (en pointe no less), neither do the ladies who had their faces digitally removed for Benjamin Button or even Julia Stiles in Save the Last Dance. In fact, Stiles was adamantly against using a dance double, yet she admitted that she had to of course use one for any scenes on pointe. Again, all kinds of people (who were properly credited according to their contracts and at the end of the movie) pirouette, run out of explosions, crash cars, and even have nudity doubles for the sake of convincing an audience that that's them in lieu of the actual actor. It's their job.

 

At the end of the day, a film maker wants to preserve the 4th wall and preserve suspension of belief. People want to see characters, technical expertise, without calling attention to the fact that there might be a body double. She's a performer - she should know that better than anyone, no one wants a flashing sign during a movie that says, "HEY! That's not Portman dancing!" or during a ballet, "Hey! She's not a really sad swan!"

 

The coy attitude that actors have to take to further enable that false reality movies create is part of the appeal - if asked whether an actress did all the dancing or used doubles, of course any actress is going to overstate their efforts for the sake of publicity and entertainment. Did Keanu Reeves actually fly in the Matrix? It's a movie. Let us be entertained and believe for a moment that it maybe might be could be true.

 

I am extremely defensive of the hard work and pitiless toil that dancers go through to become professional ballerinas, no doubt. I still have a hard time telling parents, as an advisor of a ballet school, that the chances of their daughters having a career are crazy difficult. Let's not forget all the aspiring actors that get rejected despite their work and training too. Let us not forget that people do not become actresses in 1.5 years! Acting and then dealing with the PR connected to acting is an art in and of itself.

 

Yes, yes, Portman worked hard, Ms. Lane works hard - how about Aronofsky? We're talking about a man who loves ballet so much, attends NYCB performances regularly, and dedicated more than 8 years to the script alone trying to get Black Swan made. This doesn't include the fact that he went to Harvard after high school to study film making for years and years before finally being able to create Pi and Requiem for a Dream - the preludes to Black Swan. Now people are going to create controversy over a Double? In a fictional thriller? Come on.

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Good points!!

 

This made me think of what we do, and whether we want the audience to see the stagehands pulling on the ropes (or just sitting in chairs backstage until it's their 'turn' to pull the rope- or push the botton :dry: ), or how the carriage actually "flies", or the fact that the "swan" is actually a real, live woman, and no the "prince" did not suddenly fall in love with a bird??? :wink:

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So this isn't about the credit, but about the "truth" - that no actress can become a ballerina in a year. That's not Natalie Portman dancing! Truth out! Right... I think the issue itself is valid, the problem is that it's not a new concept, the idea of using doubles for stunts, dancing, voice, etc. The new thing here is the fact that Ms. Lane felt the need to educate the world that it wasn't Natalie Portman dancing. The dance doubles in Center Stage didn't voice their indignation over Zoe Saldana being portrayed as a ballerina (en pointe no less), neither do the ladies who had their faces digitally removed for Benjamin Button or even Julia Stiles in Save the Last Dance. In fact, Stiles was adamantly against using a dance double, yet she admitted that she had to of course use one for any scenes on pointe. Again, all kinds of people (who were properly credited according to their contracts and at the end of the movie) pirouette, run out of explosions, crash cars, and even have nudity doubles for the sake of convincing an audience that that's them in lieu of the actual actor. It's their job.

 

At the end of the day, a film maker wants to preserve the 4th wall and preserve suspension of belief. People want to see characters, technical expertise, without calling attention to the fact that there might be a body double. She's a performer - she should know that better than anyone, no one wants a flashing sign during a movie that says, "HEY! That's not Portman dancing!" or during a ballet, "Hey! She's not a really sad swan!"

 

The coy attitude that actors have to take to further enable that false reality movies create is part of the appeal - if asked whether an actress did all the dancing or used doubles, of course any actress is going to overstate their efforts for the sake of publicity and entertainment. Did Keanu Reeves actually fly in the Matrix? It's a movie. Let us be entertained and believe for a moment that it maybe might be could be true.

 

I am extremely defensive of the hard work and pitiless toil that dancers go through to become professional ballerinas, no doubt. I still have a hard time telling parents, as an advisor of a ballet school, that the chances of their daughters having a career are crazy difficult. Let's not forget all the aspiring actors that get rejected despite their work and training too. Let us not forget that people do not become actresses in 1.5 years! Acting and then dealing with the PR connected to acting is an art in and of itself.

 

Yes, yes, Portman worked hard, Ms. Lane works hard - how about Aronofsky? We're talking about a man who loves ballet so much, attends NYCB performances regularly, and dedicated more than 8 years to the script alone trying to get Black Swan made. This doesn't include the fact that he went to Harvard after high school to study film making for years and years before finally being able to create Pi and Requiem for a Dream - the preludes to Black Swan. Now people are going to create controversy over a Double? In a fictional thriller? Come on.

 

All I can say is "Perfect"; absolutely, perfectly stated, thank you :dry:

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LaFilleSylphide

Yeah, we all want to put the love affair of Albrecht and Giselle on a pedestal; but dude cheats on his fiancée with a terminally ill peasant girl. :/ Characters, fiction, acting - it's what we do; that includes not just dancers and actors, but the entire production that makes it come together for the audience to be enchanted for 2 hours. It'd be a riot if the stage technician for La Sylphide ran out during the curtain calls and screamed, "I make her fly!!! Clap for me!!! She's heavier than she looks!"

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:dry::wink::lol:

 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That was funny!!!

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LaFilleSylphide

Hey, I'd clap for him - just like I clap for Sarah Lane too. Haha!

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Momof3darlings

Ok, I had to chuckle a bit. The reason a dance double wouldn't come out in the Save the Last Dance movie is because they would not have wanted their name attached to what was portrayed as ballet in that film. :dry: However, from my recollection, the dance doubles in Centerstage were given credit of some sort in the rolling credits. I'll have to double check, but I'm almost sure that they were because I remember checking to see who Zoe's double was when the movie was out. I could be wrong and I went on the internet to look, not sure.

 

Do not however assume that people "just know" that actress don't do it all. I remember very vividly a parent here who proudly exclaimed how Zoe and the actress who played Maureen did all their own dance scenes until I brought up the names of the dancers who were in fact their dance doubles. She and her dancing daughter went back to view the film again to check the credits and to try and find the camera shifts. They, even as ballet trained minds, thought those actresses did it all because the Hollywood verbage stated Ms. Saldana had danced before.

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LaFilleSylphide

I think all doubles are credited in rolling credits now, unlike in the old releases of those musicals that were previously being discussed. In fact, I wasn't aware that the voice doubles for Audrey Hepburn and etc. weren't credited until later releases! I find that a bit sad for those singers. But yeah, like many stated before - Ms. Lane was properly credited according to legal terms. It's not like they forgot her names in the end-credits... if they did, that'd be something to fuss about for sure.

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My personal opinion is that this is the deliberate or indirect result of Hollywood hype and Oscar campaigning. The Academy does have a history of being "wowed" by actors that undertake an extreme physical transformation or immerse themselves to some ridiculous degree in preparing for a role. If a beautiful slim actress gains weight (Renee Zelwigger for "Bridget Jones"...although I thought she looked better in the Hollywood version of 'heavy', i.e., 'normal') or goes ugly (Charlize Theron for "Monster"), she's praised for being so brave and sacrificing her blessed hotness for her craft. Male actors do it too...Robert DeNiro famously changed his look for Raging Bull (which may have set off this trend) and recently Christian Bale did something similar for The Fighter. I think that the producers of "Black Swan" wanted to market Natalie Portman's diet and training in the same vein and having Sarah Lane doing interviews as the dance double was harshing their vibe so they tried to shut her down. And of course the catfighting publicity now that the Oscar has been successfully won and the DVD is hitting the shelves is just icing on the cake.

 

I do feel it's a tragedy that people who are not familiar with dance would believe that someone could just fast-forward into a fully trained ballet dancer in a year, but it is what it is. I just wish it would all go away at this point, much as I felt about Brett Farve, who though he has had an impressive football career, his retirement merry-go-round and poor conduct has tarnished his lasting legacy, IMHO. There is such a thing as letting it go gracefully and moving on.

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Hard to compare dance doubles for movies like Center Stage and Save the Last Dance with Black Swan because technology has changed. They replaced the face in Black Swan!

If you watch Center Stage, you know in the long shots of the final performance that Zoe Saldana and Ilia Kulik are replaced by dance doubles. You can see it is not them.

But in Black Swan even a shot of the character sitting down on the floor has the face replacement technology.

Can you imagine the shock of seeing your body do something on film, something that you remember doing yourself, and then seeing another person's face on you?

Couple that with the fact that a special effects video which showed this technology was edited to remove the part about how they edited in Sara Lane's dancing. Add the perception that the producers of the movie are lying about how much dancing was by Natalie herself, and you can see why she is speaking out.

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But could we just leave the illusion in the theatre, and return to the real world when we leave it? I know that isn't going to happen for a whole bunch of political and financial reasons, but that's my private utopian ideal. :D

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ksrnmpr4712

Here is yet another article from the Chicago Sun Times today.

 

http://bit.ly/hzdSxf

 

I have been pretty neutral on this subject but this quote really bothers me...

 

"Portman’s friends say the actress is deeply hurt by the brouhaha, believing she is unfairly being targeted by disgruntled ballet fans unwilling to accept Portman was able to achieve near-perfection as a dancer after only a year of intense training and rehearsal."

 

:D

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luceroblanco

^ Don't be bothered by the quote. That's more "hearsay." For all we know the reporter made that up. "Portman's" friends--who??? Just more fuel to the fire.

 

That's why I think this whole mess is just negative for Lane and the ballet community. Black Swan has moved to DVD and made more money and had more recognition than they ever expected. It was an Independent film. NP is probably not even thinking about this stuff. Her new movie just came out. She is richer than most of us can imagine just from residuals from Star Wars, is pregnant, with her fiance. Has a Harvard education.

 

More and more people start making stuff up just to keep the subject going. Lane said her piece. The studio responded. No legal action has been taken as far as we know on either side and probably there can't be. The rest is just going to be comments by everyone and his/her mother about who said what and who danced what. Although some people in the ballet community appreciate and approve what Lane has done, Lane pissed off a lot of NP fans in her interviews. Hopefully the story will peter out.

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