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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Movies: Black Swan

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It does seem a bit odd for her to suddenly have issues with it. To me, it sounds less like she's cross at a lack of personal recognition, but more like she's irked at the idea that Portman would be capable of professional-standard ballet in a year and a half. It seems to have been pretty much prompted by Benjamin Millepied's comments.

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I agree that most stunt doubles are never recognized-especially not during acceptance speeches. What did she really expect? Sarah Lane has been the star plenty of times throughout her career and this was not her turn to shine-it was Natalie's. It seems like she was expecting more recognition after this and was quite upset when she did not receive the recognition but saw how impressed people were with Natalie's performance. So what if Natalie only did a small amount of dancing? This movie was not a documentary about ballet. I think as fans of ballet and as dancers we tend to overcredit the role of ballet in movies and think that the ballet aspect was much more important and meaningful than it really was. Most people who saw the movie could seriously care less who did the dancing. Do you think people care who the "real" fighter pilots in Pearl Harbor were? We don't hear the actual pilots from that movie going public and comlpaining that Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett are getting credit for a skill they don't have.


I think it would have served her better to be gracious about this whole thing and let Natalie shine in the spotlight. Now she comes off as looking envious

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From my point of view, Lane's comments are simply truthful: Portman was not convincing as a dancer, regardless of whether that is integral to the film. It was extremely obvious to me when it was Lane dancing vs. Portman. In terms of recognition, I think Lane's comments were brought on by people asking the Royal Ballet when Portman would be performing in Swan Lake with them. Obviously (to us) such a performance is impossible, but the film studio gave the impression that it was possible. Lane probably just wants people to realise that it is not possible to dance Odette/Odile within one year when you stopped dancing at age 13 (which would put you at a low intermediate level at best) even if you did a year of intensive training.


I really think that's all there is to it, but the media naturally wants to turn the whole thing into a scandal, so they blow it all out of proportion.

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I have to agree with Dance4Fun, Sarah lane does come off looking quite envious. I think Natalie Portman did a wonderful job and deserved best actress, her best performance by far. Her dancing I thought was very good and could pass as a member of a pro company. I know she trained with Mary Helen Bowers( who was with NYCB ) for over a year and Natalie gave her credit in interviews and with her acceptance speeches which was more important then giving credit to Sarah Lane. This was Natalie's time to shine. The ballet dancing is very important to the story, for sure, but a superb acting performance by Natalie Portman is why this movie will be around for a long time.

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Lane probably just wants people to realise that it is not possible to dance Odette/Odile within one year when you stopped dancing at age 13 (which would put you at a low intermediate level at best) even if you did a year of intensive training.


To be honest, I think that's quite an important thing for her to put across. I think a combination of instant gratification culture and those celebrity dance shows where participants are seen doing advanced steps and routines very quickly (even though they're usually being hauled around a stage by a very talented professional partner :)) gives out bad messages about the actual length of time and depth of commitment required to become truly proficient at anything.

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"It is demeaning to the profession and just to me. I've been doing this for 22 years ... Can you become a concert pianist in a year and a half, even if you're a movie star?"


"I mean, from a professional dancer's standpoint, she doesn't look like a professional ballet dancer at all and she can't dance in pointe shoes. And she can't move her body, she's very stiff."




If the point to be made is that dancing requires a great deal of training, there may have been a more gracious and less personally attacking way to do so than by giving the above quote to Entertainment Weekly. Did they make a big deal of it, or did she?


What she said, while possibly true, is just not very nicely stated. This does not change my opinion of the talented Sarah Lane. It may however color the opinions of those were unfamiliar with her, or ballet dancers in general, before this.


In any case, people certainly know who she is now.

Edited by Mousling
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"I do have a double for the complicated turning stuff,” Portman told EW last November. “It was not anything I ever could have done in a year, nothing I could’ve caught up with. But I think it was just better for all of us if I did as much as possible.”


Even Natalie Portman agrees that she did not do the complex moves, she left that for Sarah Lane( and gave her credit for this in a number of interviews) and she never suggested she could take on a Odette/Odile role in a real ballet and most experts agree on that. She did however work very hard, as most professional dancers do. training 5-8hours a day six days a week


Portman began learning the choreography several months before filming began last December. "It was very extreme, and the mindset during the film was just sort of extreme discipline and focus and obsession ... which was fantastic," she said.


It's true what they say though — you do get what you pay for. Natalie is absolutely convincing as a dancer in the film, exhibiting all of the grace and strength that you would expect from a ballerina. And, she definitely looks like she possesses an entirely new body than the one she had prior to filming.-Michelle Foley


And for sure a trained person in ballet (ie dancer, teacher, avid fan) would see her lines and different moves and know she has not trained for 22 years but the average movie goer would see a beautiful dancer and great actor. As For the ballet dancing in this movie, I believed she pulled it off.


Sarah Lane is a great dancer and no one would dispute that but she does come off as someone trying to get more credit then she deserves, when this movie had nothing to do with her at all but for being someones body double.

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Awww now, I feel kind of bad for her. I can't make up my mind. Black Swan was a shoestring/low-budget independent movie before it was picked up post production by a major studio and became such a huge critical (I still don't get it - didn't like it) and financial success, and she's kind of a miscellaneous footnote, which for a soloist on the principal track is probably a new feeling.


If my daughter talked about another person like this, I would put her in her place. But Ms. Lane is closer to my age than my daughter's and as an adult she is entitled to the passion of her opinion and any ensuing adulation or fallout.

Edited by Mousling
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Mazenderan: FUNNY! I want one too!


I think Ms. Lane has most likely now learned that in the movie business, 'doubles' really don't have a say and I'm sure she "shan't" be making the same mistake again. That said, I still don't blame her (though she probably wishes now that she kept her mouth closed).


Ah well. Onward and upward.

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I read that Sarah Lane got upset because the movie people claimed that Natalie Portman did 85% of the dancing, when according to Lane it was nearer to 5%. It is claimed that they attached Portman's head onto Lane's body in many of the dancing scenes! I don't have any idea and haven't seen the film - my son did and vetoed it for me - Definitely not a "Mummy film" he said!

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I saw somewhere someone comment that some of the difference in those estimations are because the studio counts lots of head shots or upper body shots of Natalie as dancing shots.. :unsure:

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I read that Sarah Lane got upset because the movie people claimed that Natalie Portman did 85% of the dancing, when according to Lane it was nearer to 5%


That the movie people lied is what is so upsetting. I can understand that they would want to keep the use of body doubles quiet and not talk about them, but to lie? That's not right.


There was a video on youtube showing the use of special effects in the movie. They showed the dancer doing turns or even running across the stage and then they pasted Portman's face on top the dancer's face. It was amazing.

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