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


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#31 vipa

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:08 AM

I thought I read $4000 a week. Anyone know for sure?

Totally agree that Lane should be given more at ABT

#32 Stecyk

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:40 AM

I thought I read $4000 a week. Anyone know for sure?

Totally agree that Lane should be given more at ABT

Re pay, see second quote in the post before yours (post 30): http://balletalert.i...post__p__284203

And yes, you are correct.

#33 Quiggin

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 10:38 AM

$24,000 for six weeks work is not very much in the budget of a film or life of a professional (who may still have 100,000 in student loans) and it shouldn't effect the right to address an injustice. I think Portman's term "nastiness" mischaracterizes the incident - if so it's on the other side.

The problem is that ballet is an art where it's difficult to tell an untruth. What a dancer does on stage, how they get from point a to point b, is brutal honesty, and there for everyone to examine unmediated. Movies to a great extent are composed of lies - of "cheating for the camera" and of all sorts of little compensations for reality. Pasting an actress's head on a dancer's body seems fairly grotesque to me (I haven't seen the movie), and of a different order than lip syncing. The comparison to boxing and other sports falls short as they don't have the precise vocabulary that ballet - and other traditional forms of dancing - do.

#34 Bonnette

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 10:43 AM

The problem is that ballet is an art where it's difficult to tell an untruth. What a dancer does on stage, how they get from point a to point b, is brutal honesty, and there for everyone to examine unmediated. Movies to a great extent are composed of lies - of "cheating for the camera" and of all sorts of little compensations for reality. Pasting an actress's head on a dancer's body seems fairly grotesque to me (I haven't seen the movie), and of a different order than lip syncing. The comparison to boxing and other sports falls short as they don't have the precise vocabulary that ballet - and other traditional forms of dancing - do.

I think what you've said is brilliant. That first sentence nails it (for me, anyway).

In a perfect world, Portman would have acknowledged her debt to Lane in terms of the dancing involved - Portman's acting ability in the film does not seem to be in dispute. But even her closeups fail to pass the believability test for me, which should at least have been part of a successful performance based on - if not about - the ballet. She can't make me believe her in the role, because she neither looks the part nor moves her arms in a balletic (or even graceful) way. When questioned, a simple statement from Portman to the effect that she could only aspire to do justice to the skill, hard work and dedication of real-life dancers would have sufficed.

#35 ksk04

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 10:52 AM

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.



Just a slight correction, the Academy Awards are voted upon by the entire member body. The nominations are what is culled from each individual branch (aside from Best Picture, which everyone gets to nominate)

And Christian Bale didn't play a boxer, he was the boxer's trainer who had a drug problem (Wahlberg was the boxer). I did read an article wherein Wahlberg discussed his training regime (which he started about 4 years before the film's production, as he was a producer) and how he refused a stunt double and got his nose almost broken several times. Who knows whether this is true or not? I do know that it wasn't in every article mentioning The Fighter, as it seemed for Portman/Kunis and their training regime.

----

My issue is that there was a clear PR slant that involved the implication that Portman was a ballerina. Maybe not by Portman, but by whoever was handling the PR for the movie. Look at this speech by director Darren Aronofky accepting on her behalf for the BAFTAS, especially starting at 1:05.



"She became a prima ballerina" I mean, my god!!! The implication from him here is so clear and so far from the truth.

#36 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 11:01 AM

Was Melissa Hayden ever recognized-(not only in public, but just in general)-for her same exact situation in "Limelight"...?

#37 dirac

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 11:17 AM

Pasting an actress's head on a dancer's body seems fairly grotesque to me (I haven't seen the movie), and of a different order than lip syncing. The comparison to boxing and other sports falls short as they don't have the precise vocabulary that ballet - and other traditional forms of dancing - do.


Lane didn't seem to have any objections at the time. If you see the movie, the photoshopped shots are carefully handled - as mentioned previously, there is very little sustained dancing in the film, because Portman and Kunis were non-dancers and the goal seems to have been to use them as much as possible. If The Turning Point was made today, possibly something similar might have been tried for a few of Anne Bancroft's scenes. Obviously in the best of all worlds a dancer would play a dancer, but Black Swan was Portman's and Aronofsky's project and that was never in the cards. Without Portman it probably doesn't get made, for better or worse.

And Christian Bale didn't play a boxer, he was the boxer's trainer who had a drug problem (Wahlberg was the boxer).


Respectfully, that's splitting hairs a bit. Bale was playing an ex-boxer and trainer. I think the point was that Bale trained very hard and still a double was necessary. It's still his performance. And although I didn't follow the PR for The Fighter as closely as I did Black Swan's, I still managed to hear an awful lot about training regimens and weight loss.

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.


Yup. Great timing on Lane's part. :)

#38 papeetepatrick

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 11:23 AM

$24,000 for six weeks work is not very much in the budget of a film or life of a professional (who may still have 100,000 in student loans) and it shouldn't effect the right to address an injustice. I think Portman's term "nastiness" mischaracterizes the incident - if so it's on the other side.

The problem is that ballet is an art where it's difficult to tell an untruth. What a dancer does on stage, how they get from point a to point b, is brutal honesty, and there for everyone to examine unmediated. Movies to a great extent are composed of lies - of "cheating for the camera" and of all sorts of little compensations for reality. Pasting an actress's head on a dancer's body seems fairly grotesque to me (I haven't seen the movie), and of a different order than lip syncing. The comparison to boxing and other sports falls short as they don't have the precise vocabulary that ballet - and other traditional forms of dancing - do.


Agree with all that, except the 'lip-synching' and that 'pasting the actress's head on the dancer's body is 'fairly grotesque'. They had to do that (or they wouldn't have), and I don't want to see the film either, I don't like Ms. Portman's persona AT ALL. But exactly right where the 'nastiness' is located, simply by using the word to refer to someone else, but SHE's not gonna do the nastiness, oh no, just keep harping on it, how SHE's not gonna do it. Really, her acceptance speeches were so silly, I thought. And 'what you get paid for something' indeed does not ever mean you shouldn't address an injustice, as you've said. Also good about the boxing and other sports, except it should be added that nobody ever even thinks that the actor (in this case Bale/Wahlberg) is doing any of it. This odd idea of making Portman seem more accomplished than she was was bound to backfire in some way, but I already ran this by a filmmaker friend who knows nothing about ballet, and he didn't think it was very important (he doesn't like Portman either, but thought a certain 'frigid persona' worked for this role) except that it did prove that without facts, or as you say ' movies to a great extent are composed of lies', which was why Didion/Dunne's essays on the ignorance of the process of movie critics (who go ahead and speak as if authoritative anyway) is still so applicable. Although what the reviewer usually 'can't see' is not dancing, but literally everything, at least compared to any live flesh-bodied stage performance, where you might not always know what a director or actor 'chose' or decided about what 'ought to happen', but you could see what somebody was doing right then at least. There's a certain mummification in film, that's part of it, of course.

#39 ksk04

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 11:39 AM

And Christian Bale didn't play a boxer, he was the boxer's trainer who had a drug problem (Wahlberg was the boxer).


Respectfully, that's splitting hairs a bit. Bale was playing an ex-boxer and trainer. I think the point was that Bale trained very hard and still a double was necessary. It's still his performance. And although I didn't follow the PR for The Fighter as closely as I did Black Swan's, I still managed to hear an awful lot about training regimens and weight loss.


Apologies then, I did not see the film and was merely going off what I knew from reading about it in the press which emphasized Bale's weight loss (undeniably done by him, to whatever end good or bad end) and Wahlberg as "The Boxer."

#40 GoCoyote!

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 02:29 PM

"...She became a prima ballerina.." (Aronofky on Portman at the BAFTAs)

And spoken on stage at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden of all places..... I'm surprised an alarm didn't go off.

But seriously, this remark sums up, for me, what is at the heart of the whole thing. That (for anyone who's actually interested, and I know many aren't particularly bothered) it is fundamentally all about the clashing of cultures. To pick up on Quiggin's sentiment a few comments back, I would say the Hollywood entertainment industry likes to create its illusions through deception and the world of classical ballet likes to create its illusions through honesty.

The deceptive approach leads to a more defensive attitude and behaviour (as demonstrated by the Portman camp) and the honest approach leads to a more protective attitude and behavour (as demonstrated by the Lane camp).

I'm sure I am over simplifying and I'm definitely biased in favour of 'ballet culture' (Hollywood culture leaves me cold) but there you go! I hope the world of ballet and the world of Hollywood (as it is today) continue to have little to do with each other as I can see only harm being brought to ballet and no good at all. But I know this is unlikely to stay the case - especially now that new technologies allow for Hollywood style illusions to be realized with increasing ease.

#41 cantdance

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 03:55 PM

While reading the article on Sarah Lane's pay there was a link to the other body double stunt double who did fight scene and some feet shots. This interview was posted in November.
http://artsmeme.com/...kimberly-prosa/

#42 vipa

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 04:06 PM

"...She became a prima ballerina.." (Aronofky on Portman at the BAFTAs)

And spoken on stage at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden of all places..... I'm surprised an alarm didn't go off.

But seriously, this remark sums up, for me, what is at the heart of the whole thing. That (for anyone who's actually interested, and I know many aren't particularly bothered) it is fundamentally all about the clashing of cultures. To pick up on Quiggin's sentiment a few comments back, I would say the Hollywood entertainment industry likes to create its illusions through deception and the world of classical ballet likes to create its illusions through honesty.

The deceptive approach leads to a more defensive attitude and behaviour (as demonstrated by the Portman camp) and the honest approach leads to a more protective attitude and behavour (as demonstrated by the Lane camp).

I'm sure I am over simplifying and I'm definitely biased in favour of 'ballet culture' (Hollywood culture leaves me cold) but there you go! I hope the world of ballet and the world of Hollywood (as it is today) continue to have little to do with each other as I can see only harm being brought to ballet and no good at all. But I know this is unlikely to stay the case - especially now that new technologies allow for Hollywood style illusions to be realized with increasing ease.


Thank you GoCoyote - Nicely put. You gave me a different way to look at the situation. One camp trying to defend the illusion and the other trying to protect the reality of what a ballerina is.

Do you think Aronofsky knew that Portman didn't/couldn't become a prima ballerina? I think probably if he had stopped to give it serious thought, but part of the hollywood deception is the super hype that people buy into. I remember reading that Lane thought they'd take care of her because everyone was very encouraging, telling her how great she was and cheering her on when she had to do difficult sequences over and over again while hitting her marks and wearing those dot things (don't know what to call them) on her. She was naive. She wasn't capable at seeing it through a "hollywood" hype lens, she was seeing it through a "ballet" lens.

#43 bart

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 04:14 PM

What a fascinating topic. I'm glad we didn't start with a Topic Poll, because it is clear that there a more than a few sides to this story.

On the whole, however, my sympathies are with Ms. Lane -- and with the Ms. Lane of this world.

#44 dirac

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 06:19 AM

While reading the article on Sarah Lane's pay there was a link to the other body double stunt double who did fight scene and some feet shots. This interview was posted in November.
http://artsmeme.com/...kimberly-prosa/


Thanks again, cantdance, I hadn't seen this one. The interview is with Kimberly Prosa. Nice article.

Says Prosa: “Natalie took class, she studied for several months, from the waist up is her. Sarah Lane a soloist at ABT, did the heavy tricks, she did the fouéttes, but they only had her for a limited time, a couple of weeks, so I did the rest of whatever dance shots they needed.”

“We filmed in New York.

“She [Portman] definitely put her work in. Just in a couple of months, she looked credible — all the dancers on the set were really impressed at how well she pulled that off — it was pretty amazing."



#45 carbro

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 08:57 PM

I think the total count of Lane's credits were three, and her name did come up.

Thank you, dirac. I stand corrected. http://www.imdb.com/...ullcredits#cast You just have to do quite a bit of scrolling to find the other two ("dance double, Natalie Portman" and "stunt double"). Oh, the internet has made some of us soooo lazy!
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