Black mark on ‘Black Swan’?

Black Swan

Natalie Portman (or Sarah Lane?) in 'Black Swan'.

Quelle horreur! Natalie Portman didn’t do all of her own dancing on Black Swan? *dramatic gasp*

Oh wait, we knew that already. And even if we didn’t know it, we should have guessed. After all, the 32 fouettés that Odile (the “black” swan) performs in the coda are hardly something even your most talented amateur dancer would be able to perform.*

The issue at hand, however, is how much of the dancing Natalie did herself. Benjamin Millepied (Black Swan choreographer and Natalie’s fiance and the father of her baby) claimed that Natalie did 85 percent of the dancing. After reviewing all his footage, Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky believes its closer to 90 percent.

But Sarah Lane reckons that’s all a load of rubbish. She claims that she did 90 percent of the dancing, and that only around 5 percent of the full-body shots were Natalie.

Now, if you had to ask who Sarah Lane was, you’re probably like everybody else on the planet not closely related to her. Sarah Lane is Natalie’s body double – who went largely unnoticed during the hoorah of awards season and *gasp* didn’t get a mention in Natalie’s Oscar acceptance speech. She was apparently only listed as an extra in the credits, too. And now she’s determined to make everybody aware that Natalie is no prima ballerina.

It smacks of attention-seeking behaviour… And Lane has admitted that yes, she was peeved by the lack of recognition. But what else did she expect? Her career to suddenly take off, offers to join other ballet companies to start piling up at her doorstep? Instead of being gracious about it, going “well done, Natalie” and moving on, she’s caused a massive spat.

But, she says, she’s only talking about because she feels so personally insulted that we think that Natalie could possibly be a real ballerina.

“It is demeaning to the profession and not 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?”

She continued to say, “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,” says Lane.

Yeah, cause that’s not below-the-belt and catty at all. Classy, Ms. Lane.

If you’ve seen the movie (and if you haven’t seen the movie, go now. Right now. Stop what you’re doing and find it, somewhere) then you’ll see the ways the filmmakers use to depict the dancing in a manner that you’d believe could be all Natalie. The character of Nina is often filmed from the waist-up, in flowing and loose sequences. Very little emphasis is placed on her footwork – which was apparently almost all Lane anyway – and there are very few full-body shots.

But at the end of the day, does it even really matter? Fox should’ve given Lane the credit (or she should have insisted on it) – which often happens for stunt doubles or the singing voices in musicals (think Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady).

And Natalie wasn’t given her Oscar purely for the dancing. She managed to transform herself, physically and emotionally, to give the standout performance of the year.

* Click here to see Gillian Murphy perform the sequence. It’s hardcore.

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