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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Movies: Black Swan

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And, actually, for the big dance scenes, Sarah Lane was her double. And, I'd rather be dancing ALL THE TIME like Sarah Lane than like Natalie Portman! :) :)


There's a more detailed thread, with more reviews, etc., on the Ballet Talk site -- check it out!

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I just read an article in a german movie magazin, where Portman complains how hard everything was and that pointe would be torture...oh well, I think she's either too weak or had the wrong shoes. I really would like to see once in mylifetime a film where the part of the ballerina is done by a real ballerina...but I should stop complaining and see the film first :)

The Red Shoes!

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I have seen that one but I did not like it too much (I usually do not like old movies...I cannot say why.It might have to do something with the translation. I have seen a translated version and usually old films are badly done and big part gets lost).

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I would maybe urge caution over letting younger girls read some of the interviews, never mind watch the film. The actresses both talk about the diets they followed to get into the shape required for the roles, and they aren't exactly healthy.


On the contrary. I think this is a good time to raise awareness with these kids about the importance of good eating habits. As dancers, they are athletes. They have to feed their bodies appropriately or risk losing the ability to dance at all. I wish the dance community would stop ignoring this issue and hit it head on instead. Or maybe it's something that the ballet world doesn't really want to fix. Maybe it IS the look that is still preferred in the company circles. I get mixed messages and I'm just a mom.... Don't you think it's time to take a stand on this? Or perhaps it's just a liability issue you're worried about....

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horselover, we have (and do) have this conversation here on BT4D---but we are careful about how it is presented and discussed. A non-dancer actresses' crash course on getting 'into shape' as a dancer, however, isn't a particularly responsible vantage point from whence to launch such a discussion.


If you have a chance to review old threads in the Parenting forums and the Health & Nutrition forums, I think you will find many threads in which we have held (what we consider) appropriate and reasonable discussions of this issue of dancers, weight, body image, AD expectations, etc. It is a large issue with many facets and many ramifications and because we take our responsibilities toward our young dance members so seriously, we are very careful about how we choose to discuss this ever-present issue. Impressionable minds will take what they will from open discussions and it may not be what is helpful. Thus, our great care and monitoring of such discussions.

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I really would like to see once in mylifetime a film where the part of the ballerina is done by a real ballerina...


See The Turning Point or Center Stage. The stars are real ballerinas, but not great film actresses, at least not the caliber of Portman and Kunis.

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I've posted some about the film in another thread which is in the Adult Forum. I saw the film back in October in a film festival and it was weird, but very exciting. I was guessing and on the edge of my seat for most of it. It is not appropriate for children and in my opinion neither for adolescent dancers under 18.


As for films with "real" dancers, I think one has to consider the caliber of the acting necessary for the role and also how important the dancing is to the film. In Black Swan, the actors must be well trained in their craft and experienced, especially the role of Ms. Portman. Someone with a few high school or college acting courses would not cut it. Someone with a couple of films or plays behind them probably would not either. They need technique. That said, in discussions on here we have had about artistry related to dance, most people said that ballerinas in training receive little or no acting training or technique. I think the pool of potential ballerinas with the acting chops, experience and technique to do this role is incredibly small--if there even are one or two--who have the ballet training to look like a professional ballerina at a NYC company.


I want to say that just as dancers from the ballet community feel that Kunis and Portman did not know what it really takes to be a ballerina--all the hard work and years of training, many in the dance community do not know what it takes to become a great actor. You don't just come off the street and pretend--many actors take coaching and technique classes, and also do lots of shows and films to get them to the point of being considered "great" actors. Meryl Streep, for example has a graduate degree from Yale Drama School. Not a small feat either.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think it is the marketing firm for this movie that should get the Oscar. Saw the movie, and . . . eh. For a more intriguing descent into madness, give me Shakespeare/King Lear any day. In this movie, Nina was so nuts to start with, there was no real descent. I found the movie evoked no post-viewing discussion except how pointless the movie was.

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I second dancemaven's review. Saw the film last night, partially as a "parent preview" as my daughter (17) and some friends were talking about having a "ballerina sleepover" during their winter break and going to see Black Swan. The first 20 minutes, I loved the film -- seeing the story begin to unfold, having some gorgeous scenes of dancers working...but from there I felt it just got strange and dark and awkward. The film did feature the "required elements" of a ballet movie: bulemia, injury, jealosy, disordered eating and a pathological mother/daughter relationship. (She said, tongue firmly in cheek.) Sadly, after a while, hubby and I were unable to tell what part of the later film (if any) was reality, or her "madness". I shared some of the FYI's with my daughter -- a few cringe-worthy bloody/violent scenes, several rather uncomfortable sexual images, fascinating dancing...cruddy story line.


As we were leaving the packed theatre last night, a woman was insistent on rushing between and past hubs and I. The usher caught her eye and asked how she liked the movie. Her answer, practically shouted, "I HATED it." (Not sure she knew it wasn't a sweet ballerina movie...). While a DVD copy is not planned for my library of ballet movies, I'm glad I saw it, if only to be able to give the review to my daughter and her friends. Sounds like they're considering other entertainment options.

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Dancers and artistic staff from Ballet West provide interesting feedback on the movie.


The writer of the article noted the following:


even if the day-to-day depictions of life in a ballet company are highly exaggerated, the movie mirrors the ballet’s subtle weave of fact and fiction, chipping away at viewers’ grounding in reality and replacing it with illusion.


I still haven't decided whether I want to go see it, but all the perspectives in this thread and the various reviews have certainly intrigued me!

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The stage locations appear to be the PAC at Purchase College. I'm surprised they did not use the dance studios there. The Concrete block underground complex and dressing rooms fit the movie perfectly.


IMHO, a good movie.

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I finally saw it and really liked it! I think I liked it more than I thought I would too:)

It is super dark and artsy and there are a lot of scary and uncomfortable images but it really stayed with me. Also..there IS lots of dance but often from the main protagonist's perspective which I found very interesting too!

The slow descent into madness is intriguing if a little underexplained sometimes; it could have used a little more explanation I felt, but anyhow, I might see it again. As an artist (painter) it moved me visually and I particularly loved the black swan at the end; SO strong in imagery and it had a weird beauty.

The sexual scenes were not offensive in my opinion as there was no nudity and it was fairly tasteful.

Overall, two thumbs up from me:)

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I also had no problem with the sex scenes, but I found some of the scary scenes more disturbing that I expected. I guess I liked it in that I'm still thinking about it a week after I saw it, but I think some of the scenes were far more graphic than the needed to be. I didn't mind the ambiguity of reality versus not reality - that was well done, but I think that there were too many scenes I had to cover my eyes.

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Hubby and I enjoyed a date night last week and saw the movie. My biggest disappointment was that there was not enough dancing for me. Sure there were lots of shots in rehearsals, at the barre, and the final performance, but only tight closeups of Natalie Portman, and not enough to really get an appreciation for the overall ballet production. I did enjoy the use of ballet as a device/backdrop with the Swan Lake duality/inner conflict of the dancer. I think Natalie Portman did an amazing acting job.

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