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My (Double) Life as a Black Swan - By Sarah LaneWall Street Journal - SPEAKEASY blog


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#16 dirac

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 10:23 AM

I don't think that anyone with any sense believes that Portman is a ballet dancer or could be one if she so desired, just as I don't believe anyone with any sense believes that Mickey Rourke, Sylvester Stallone, Mark Wahlberg or Hillary Swank are, or could be, boxers even though they have played boxers to acclaim in films and had to train physically for their roles.


And you always read about how hard they trained, and I'm sure much of it is true - they work hard just to be able to approximate for the screen the level of skill they're supposed to have. The fact that Portman didn't make a fool of herself is tribute enough to her training. atm711 made mention of Claire Bloom and Melissa Hayden - Chaplin made Bloom attend ballet class every day and work hard at it, and Bloom wasn't called upon to do half of what Portman did.

Well, they may not have much sense, but after the film was released people were contacting Covent Garden and NYCB to find out when Portman would be dancing in Swan Lake. I wonder, were there similar cases of people expecting to see Stallone in a title fight?


There's not much you can do about the [really] credulous. Had those people paid more attention to what Portman said in her interviews, they would have had no such expectations.

I suspect that ballet is still very exotic to much of the public, and unfamiliarity has something to do with it, as well. They see a lot more of sports.

#17 dirac

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 10:26 AM


Iím not sure what part of the ďdoubleĒ concept Sarah Lane doesnít understand and Iím sorry she didnít receive the degree of personal publicity she believes was her due, but Iím inclined to agree with abatt.

I haven't seen her ask for personal publicity, I've seen her object to her work being credited to Portman. It's one thing to agree to work behind the scenes so to speak. It's another to stay silent while people say you really didn't do very much work.


We shall have to agree to disagree, kfw.

#18 cantdance

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 11:58 AM

Here is the interview Dance Magazine did before the movie was released.
http://www.dancemaga...k-QA-Sarah-Lane
Sarah talks about the special effects and working with the director and actors.

"And how does it feel to be part of a performance that some critics are giving Natalie Portman rave reviews for? Iím not really looking for any sort of recognition. The process was a huge learning experience and I got everything I wanted out of it. But she deserves the recognition. She worked really hard."

#19 bart

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 01:47 PM

Well, they may not have much sense, but after the film was released people were contacting Covent Garden and NYCB to find out when Portman would be dancing in Swan Lake. I wonder, were there similar cases of people expecting to see Stallone in a title fight?

:rofl:

#20 4mrdncr

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 02:09 PM

I didn't want to re-read the whole thread again, but I will say this about Mr. Aronofsky's calculations (wherein he, and then Benjamin Millepied, claim Natalie Portman dances 80% of the film): His calculations are based on "screentime", so of course Natalie Portman would have more "screentime" than Sarah Lane, Ms. Portman is the star of the film. He also counted up neck up or shoulders up views ie. ECU's of Ms. Portman, or her pretty but vacuous face superimposed on Ms. Lane's body as her "screentime". This is NOT dancing. An ECU is acting, flapping arms are flapping arms, NONE of that is actual DANCING. I would like to know what would happen if he counted only the FS's, LS's, or CU's of Ms. Lane's pointe shoes DANCING, not Ms. Portman's neck-up acting.

#21 papeetepatrick

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 03:02 PM

Apart from being inarticulate, I think Portman's response was appropriate. Why should she engage in a war of words with Sarah Lane? That would not benefit Portman in any way. If Lane wanted more accurate or extensive credit in the film, shouldn't she (or her agent) have negotiated for that in her contract when she agreed to do the film?


It's not important whether it benefits Portman or not to everyone. She and her fans have profited enormously from the film. If Lane wants to speak out now, I don't see why she shouldn't do so when she's ready to, it's not a legal matter to talk about it now even if contract negotiations in the past (of which we know nothing) may have seemed less impolitic. It's almost as if since Portman got an Oscar that should mean some kind of mystical aura was endowed, but it doesn't--my main point, I think, is that this would more 'politely' be discussed in, say, 2 years or more, after the afterglow had been given its full due. Lane didn't think that was as important as her facts, and so she didn't pay any attention to that. We say anything about films 10 or 60 years later, no matter how celebrated, and many of the new revelations may be unflattering. Lane's remarks don't value award-giving as much as they do matters of fact about dancing in the film itself. I like that attitude myself. Portman 'gave as good as she got' by responding in that 'non-way'.

It's too late to go back now and complain about those choices.


It's not too late, even if you think she ought to have done so earlier--and even if you're right that she should have done it sooner. The 'Portman spell' has been given plenty of due; after all, Lane could have done it even sooner. The Oscars are old news by now, and they're never more than relatively important news in the long view of film history and evaluation thereof.
But this is related to dubbing singers' voices in films (never done in live performance, as far as I know, and certainly not for long runs, except with enhancement by pit singers), and that's never hidden, although it does most often lead to the perception that the performance was lesser than those who sang (it usually is, but not always. However, I'm not sure I can think of a dubbed singer in a movie musical who won an Oscar, although there may well be one; Deborah Kerr was nominated for one for 'The King and I', and did win a Golden Globe for it.)

Agree with most of what GoCoyote and 4mrdncr said. Non-ballet fans of the movie paid no attention to Lane anyway.

#22 carbro

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 04:38 PM

Somehow, I don't recall Melissa Hayden complaining about Clare Bloom in 'Limelight'----

She had little cause to, as she got her due credit. Likewise Bambi Linn and James Mitchell for their dancing in Oklahoma that Mme Hermine posted. In Black Swan, as noted elsewhere, Sarah Lane is credited as "Lady in the Lane," but not for her dancing. I suspect that all Lane wanted was acknowledgment for her contribution to the credibility of Portman's performance.

There's not much you can do about the [really] credulous. Had those people paid more attention to what Portman said in her interviews, they would have had no such expectations.

It all depends how closely one expects "those people" to follow the publicity. Casual film fans will not have been exposed to as much as, thanks to the keepers our Links forum, has been arrayed before us at BalletAlert!

[Aronofsky's] calculations (wherein he, and then Benjamin Millepied, claim Natalie Portman dances 80% of the film): His calculations are based on "screentime", so of course Natalie Portman would have more "screentime" than Sarah Lane, Ms. Portman is the star of the film.

And it's not the "arm flapping" that impresses the ballet-naive public but the fouettes which, despite appearances, were not executed by Portman.

#23 vipa

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 05:52 PM

Somehow, I don't recall Melissa Hayden complaining about Clare Bloom in 'Limelight'----

She had little cause to, as she got her due credit. Likewise Bambi Linn and James Mitchell for their dancing in Oklahoma that Mme Hermine posted. In Black Swan, as noted elsewhere, Sarah Lane is credited as "Lady in the Lane," but not for her dancing. I suspect that all Lane wanted was acknowledgment for her contribution to the credibility of Portman's performance.

There's not much you can do about the [really] credulous. Had those people paid more attention to what Portman said in her interviews, they would have had no such expectations.

It all depends how closely one expects "those people" to follow the publicity. Casual film fans will not have been exposed to as much as, thanks to the keepers our Links forum, has been arrayed before us at BalletAlert!

[Aronofsky's] calculations (wherein he, and then Benjamin Millepied, claim Natalie Portman dances 80% of the film): His calculations are based on "screentime", so of course Natalie Portman would have more "screentime" than Sarah Lane, Ms. Portman is the star of the film.

And it's not the "arm flapping" that impresses the ballet-naive public but the fouettes which, despite appearances, were not executed by Portman.


I agree with carbro in all cases. I think the basic problem is that a lot of the pre oscar publicity stressed Portman's weight loss, hard work and progress in ballet, leaving the implication that she became the equal to a professional ballet dancer. Aronofsky could have left out the piques, fouettes etc, entirely, but he must have deemed them necessary to establish the character's credibility as a dancer. He now dismisses those scenes as few, but they must have been important or they'd be on the cutting room floor.

I think what Lane and other dancers would love is some acknowledgement that Portman didn't become the equal of a professional dancer.

I wish Millepied's statements would be clearer. I know he is in love and about to be a father, but if he had a ballet company would he hire Portman?

#24 Amy Reusch

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 07:26 PM

Did Sarah Lane start the fuss? Or did Wendy Perron start the fuss? Wasn't it when Sarah Lane was asked to stop giving interviews that the bruhaha started to bubble up? Was Wendy Perron asked to hold off on the Sarah Lane interview?

#25 dirac

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 07:33 PM

Here is the interview Dance Magazine did before the movie was released.
http://www.dancemaga...k-QA-Sarah-Lane
Sarah talks about the special effects and working with the director and actors.

"And how does it feel to be part of a performance that some critics are giving Natalie Portman rave reviews for? Iím not really looking for any sort of recognition. The process was a huge learning experience and I got everything I wanted out of it. But she deserves the recognition. She worked really hard."


Thanks, cantdance. I thought I'd seen that somewhere.

She had little cause to, as she got her due credit.


I think the total count of Lane's credits were three, and her name did come up. I'm reading that she was apparently peeved because she didn't get a mention in Portman's Oscar speech, which if true might account for the oddly belated timing of her complaints/charges.

As I said earlier, I do have some sympathy. I also think the studio bears some of the blame for too much emphasis on Portman's "dancing" as part of her role, especially in a film that isn't really a ballet film and hasn't much in the way of dancing. If Lane actually expected an Oscar night thank you then one is sorry for her. Whatever you think of Portman's performance, it's definitely hers.

He now dismisses those scenes as few, but they must have been important or they'd be on the cutting room floor.


You'd be surprised how much of importance can wind up on the cutting room floor. :)

#26 volcanohunter

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 08:04 PM

[size="2"]

I'm reading that she was apparently peeved because she didn't get a mention in Portman's Oscar speech, which if true might account for the oddly belated timing of her complaints/charges.

According to the Wendy Perron blog post that seemed to get this "controversy" rolling, Lane had already read the writing on the wall and wasn't expecting a mention in Portman's Oscar speech.

I asked her if she was expecting to be thanked when she heard Portman reel off 10 or 20 other names during her acceptance speech. Lane said no, because a Fox Searchlight producer had already called to ask her to stop giving interviews until after the Oscars. "They were trying to create this facade that she had become a ballerina in a year and a half," she said. "So I knew they didn't want to publicize anything about me."

http://www.dancemaga...logs/wendy/3741

[/size][size="2"]She said much the same thing in the Wall Street Journal.

[/size][size="2"]Were you upset on Oscar night that you weren't thanked by Portman from the podium as a lot of people were?
I wasn't upset, because I knew that she wasn't going to thank me. I already knew what was going on, so I didn't expect it. Of course I feel like I was cheated a little bit. I understand that they had to do what they had to do politically to make a low-budget movie an Oscar movie. And I know that it wasn't necessarily a personal thing. Unfortunately I was the one, and ballet itself, that was discredited.

http://www.dancemaga...logs/wendy/3741[/size]

#27 dirac

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 10:19 PM

Dunno what to tell you, volcanohunter. I quite agree with the quotes around "controversy." If actual spouses have to adjust to not getting mentioned on Oscar night, I guess doubles can cope with it, too. :)

#28 Jayne

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 12:42 AM

Ms. Lane was paid $4000 / day week (edited) for her double work, for a 6 week period, during her break from the ABT season. I am sure it helped soothe the pain and pay the rent.

While a few people may be silly enough to call in asking if Natalie Portman will dance in Royal Ballet's "Swan Lake" - those people don't vote for Oscar winners. In fact, most academy members don't vote. Only members with acting credits get to vote. No directors, no cinematographers, etc get to vote for "Best Actor/Actress". Only Ms. Portman's fellow thespians voted, and they liked her best. These thespians - better than anyone - know that doubles are a part of the business - whether for stunts, nudity, dancing, or other feats of daring. These same thespians also voted for Christian Bale for best supporting actor in "The Fighter" (another actor who lost weight and trained relentlessly). And a boxing double was used for some of his scenes. This same boxing double is not whining to the press that an "illusion" has been created that Christian Bale became a professional boxer with a year of training.

I've seen pictures of Ms Lane on set, wearing the "spots" (for lack of a better term) on her face, these markings are used later to drop in Ms. Portman's face into the shot. So she knew exactly why she was on set, and what they would do to her face with CGI (or whatever the proper term is).

If "best performance by an actress" was based on dancing skills, then surely many amazing performances by principals in the Live Broadcasts of ballet productions would be nominated for "best actress" - correct? After all, Diana Vishneva both dances and acts on stage (which is broadcast around the world). Still, the Academy of Motion Pictures & Sciences chose to recognize Ms. Portman instead.

Most of the "dancing" shots in "Black Swan" are shown from the waist up (which probably was Ms. Portman - because most of the criticism by professional dancers of the movie discussed Ms. Portman's amateur neck and posture). Is Ms. Lane claiming those shots of dancing - which were so heavily criticized by her colleagues? The remaining dancing shots are the full body and feet-only shots, which Ms. Portman has openly stated were the dancing double.

Tempest in a teapot. But all PR is good PR, and "Black Swan" is freshly minted on DVD. Ms. Lane's whining probably made the production team a few extra dollars in DVD sales. :)

ok - edited for the correction to the pay scale per week. I knew this at the time and simply typed it incorrectly in my haste to get my thoughts typed as quickly as possible. Thanks to those who caught the error!

#29 abatt

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 06:08 AM

Ms. Lane was paid $4000 / day for her double work, for a 6 week period, during her break from the ABT season.



:jawdrop: And that's considered a "low budget" film! I can't imagine what a "high budget" film would pay. I like Sarah Lane and think she should be receiving more opportunities at ABT. Let's hope she can channel some of this energy into convincing Kevin to give her a lead role, instead of the usual Amour, peasant pas and Bluebirds that she has been doing for years.

#30 Stecyk

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:01 AM

Ms. Lane was paid $4000 / day for her double work, for a 6 week period, during her break from the ABT season. I am sure it helped soothe the pain and pay the rent.


How Much Did Dance Double Sarah Lane Earn for ‘Black Swan’? Wall Street Journal 28 March 2011

Lane said via email a few minutes ago that she earned “$4000 per week before taxes so after taxes it was about $2000 plus a little overtime.”

I don't mean to ruin a really good story with a few cold hard facts, but Ms. Lane did not make off like a bandit.

Given her work and her years of dedication, a few well placed kind words acknowledging Ms. Lane's efforts and accomplishments would have gone a long way.


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