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


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#46 sidwich

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 10:57 PM

Just to note that credits listed on imdb.com do not necessarily match film credits. Virtually all information on imdb is submitted by users. Sarah Lane's official credits on Black Swan are “Stunt Double,” “Hand Model,” and “Lady in the Lane.” I don't think she's officially credited as Natalie Portman's dance double anywhere.

#47 dirac

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 06:41 AM

Yes, those are the three credits I had seen. All the dance doubles were listed as stunt doubles, I think.

#48 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 08:52 AM

over the weekend, the turning point was on television and i was kind of roped into looking. i was struck very strongly by how discreetly and carefully they tried to give the impression that anne bancroft was a dancer; she was, i think, rather naturally slim, but for instance, showing the top half of her at the barre and then showing similarly color-clad legs to give the impression that these were the legs that belonged to this woman; having her make some very limited hand and upper body movements, which she did quite well - in her dressing room, having her folding ribbons on pointe shoes the way a dancer would do it, in the "gala", showing her full body but only in "acting", not dancing, though she stood and did her limited movements very, very nicely - it made the focus, at least for me, fall more naturally on the story that was unfolding rather than on the question of whether that was anne bancroft or say someone like makarova doing the dancing - emma jacklin (her character) really wasn't shown dancing, just suggested. and of course, she was much older than natalie portman and as far as i know didn't really have any dancing background, so for me it was all the more impressive that in what they did show her doing, it really looked quite good. even natalie portman's much-touted 'dancing' history is limited, and at the age of 29, in terms of her ability, recedes far enough into the past to be non-existent to me. that's IMnot-soHO of course. :)

now i know it's not the same kind of story, but i thought all that was worth mentioning.

not to mention, i must add, that i really find it a terrible insult to the dancer who's taken 5, 6, 7, 8 etc. classes a week since age 11 or whatever, and gotten hired at age 17 and worked 10 hours a day for twelve years, to suggest that a 29-year-old who hasn't danced since she was a teenager with any kind of regularity can suddenly at that age pick it up, and regardless of how hard she works, turn into a "ballerina" in a few hours a day for one year. which they suggested with rather a heavy hand. they really wanted to people to think she had. at least that's how it sounded to me.

#49 Stecyk

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 11:27 AM

Here is Sarah Lane appearing on ABC's 20/20.

ABC Video: Natalie Portman's Dance Double Speaks Out

Worthwhile viewing.

#50 vipa

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 02:42 PM

Here is Sarah Lane appearing on ABC's 20/20.

ABC Video: Natalie Portman's Dance Double Speaks Out

Worthwhile viewing.


Thank you for posting this. I saw the segment on 20/20 and the GMA that was posted online. I think both times Sarah Lane presented herself in a very lovely way. Clearly her problem is with the notion that someone could become anywhere close to a professional dancer in a year or two. She is looking for respect for the art form. Later in the 20/20 interview when questioned about Natalie Portman, Lane answered that Portman was a beautiful actress who deserved the Oscar.

IMO the television interviews of both Jennifer Ringer and Sarah Lane have shown the world that there are beautiful, intelligent, real women in ballet. I'm not comparing their issues, personal styles etc. Just the fact that these two lovely women give a glimpse into the real people who work as ballet dancers.

#51 sz

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 03:56 PM

>IMO the television interviews of both Jennifer Ringer and Sarah Lane have shown the world
>that there are beautiful, intelligent, real women in ballet. I'm not comparing their issues,
>personal styles etc. Just the fact that these two lovely women give a glimpse into the real
>people who work as ballet dancers.

I'm in total agreement with Vipa's above.

It did make me furious last night that 20/20 gave a horrible murder story
45 mins, while Sarah/ballet received only 5 mins of coverage.....
But thinking it over, that's typical of the junk that's on American TV.....
and 5 mins is making progress!!!

I thought Sarah did a magnificent job and managed to deflect the bias and
accusatory questions aimed at her, and she also instilled some doubt about
Portman's dancing. You'll notice they never showed a comparison of Portman
dancing and Sarah dancing....

#52 abatt

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 07:31 AM

I thought it was strange that they never mentioned the company that Sarah dances with (ABT of course), but they repeatedly used footage of ABT classes and rehearsals.

#53 Bonnette

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 10:33 AM

I thought it was strange that they never mentioned the company that Sarah dances with (ABT of course), but they repeatedly used footage of ABT classes and rehearsals.

I, too, thought that was odd. Maybe ABT preferred that the company name not be mentioned, though of course the studio and her fellow dancers would have been recognizable to the cognicenti.

While this story probably won't hold the public interest for long, there might well be repercussions involving future cinematic casting/crediting/contractural/promotional decisions - on the parts of dancers and production companies, alike; and that could have implications for other types of doubles, even (perhaps) retroactively. It's an interesting dilemma. I agree with Ms. Lane when she says that the promotional pitch for this particular film - touting Portman as a balletic wunderkind - is the main concern here, compounded by ongoing misrepresentation after the fact on the part of the motion picture studio and principals.

#54 4mrdncr

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 07:22 PM

I missed the program broadcast because of work, but online, the "tease" (ie. pre-show of the segment to get viewers to stay tuned until the commercials are over)does mention that Sarah dances for ABT, which 20/20 said was "one of the top ballet companies in the world". So that should make some people happy, even if the general public still has no idea what it's all about. (Personally, I just liked the view of ABT in class to see who was there. And those pdd excerpts: "Giselle" with I think Carreno, and in studio with her husband.)
I also agree that Ms. Lane, and Wendy Perron too, were very good at focusing the questions onto the need for respect and recognition of ballet, an art form requiring decades of training; NOT individual personalities/performers. (However, I'm sure the prurient press (20/20 included) and Hollywood hacks just wanted a good 'cat fight' to help sell the show or dvds.)

PS. I'm also glad someone viewed my trailer and called it "an antidote to Black Swan" that they wanted to show everyone. It made my day.

#55 papeetepatrick

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 08:32 PM

I'm also glad someone viewed my trailer and called it "an antidote to Black Swan" that they wanted to show everyone. It made my day.


Should make much more than just 'one day', 4mrdncr. Congratulations. The word 'antidote' is one of the highest you can get, proves your work has power and said something important. My 3rd book is finally coming out in June, and I am hoping to be called an 'antidote' to something myself (although not 'The Black Swan', even though it is called 'Illegal Dances of New York City'. :angel_not: I know, shameless self-promotion, but it took 4 years to get to the final edit this week.) Good for us 'deep-goers'.

Bonnette said:

ongoing misrepresentation after the fact on the part of the motion picture studio and principals.


That's why this 'BlackSwanGate' had to be done. If the hype continued, it might as well be said to be on the same level as the supermarket stories about Brangelina, which are somehow never-ending, and by now, downright repulsive. A certain amount of Hollywood hype is to be expected, so I might disagree somewhat with GoCoyote and others, but only to a degree, about how 'Hollywood' means devious and ballet is grounded in something less so. I don't even think ballet is all that particalarly 'honest' (not that I think it's dishonest or devious), but just rather that, in this case, even if it wasn't a 'ballet movie' the way 'the Red Shoes' is, it's somewhat answerable to the matter of ballet as an art form, and it doesn't matter if 20/20 used it as crass TV tripe (to their perceptions.) I'm surprised it made it onto such an important prurient show at all.

GoCoyote said:

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.


Yes, I'd say that in a general sense, you might be overstating it, and 'Hollywood culture leaving one cold' is all right, and sometimes I think it does me too. But then so does 'balet culture' sometimes leave me cold. At this point, I don't think the movies are worth the money, and I do think ballet is, so that says something, although not much.

Although definitely like Ms. Lane's project of the last few weeks. Good for her. She was right, and Ms. Portman is going to have to settle for being a fine actress, even though it seems as though what she wanted was not to be seen so much as an 'accomplished ballerina', but rather as a 'movie goddess' as existed in the old days, and has totally vanished. The only one who has that, as far as I can see, is DeNeuve, and she's French and old. There aren't going to be any more Garbos, Gardners, and Monroes.

#56 dirac

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 01:52 AM

at least for me, fall more naturally on the story that was unfolding rather than on the question of whether that was anne bancroft or say someone like makarova doing the dancing - emma jacklin (her character) really wasn't shown dancing, just suggested. and of course, she was much older than natalie portman and as far as i know didn't really have any dancing background, so for me it was all the more impressive that in what they did show her doing, it really looked quite good.


Following this to go a bit off topic, I would say we don't know what they would have tried in 1977 with the technology they have today, and even the pros in The Turning Point received some help from film techniques. I liked Bancroft but because she couldn't be shown dancing or doing much of anything, much less than was asked of Portman, the film gave a misleading account of what a ballerina in late maturity can do - one could easily take away that all they're capable of is a walk around the stage in ankle length dresses waving their arms, that is until management brings out the hook. And The Turning Point is a ballet film in a way that Black Swan isn't.

I thought it was strange that they never mentioned the company that Sarah dances with (ABT of course), but they repeatedly used footage of ABT classes and rehearsals.


I noticed that, too. Also noticed that at the very end of the segment Elizabeth Vargas took the time to plug the DVD, and she also promoted Lane to "prima ballerina." Well, maybe someday. :)

#57 Helene

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 10:34 PM

From stinger784. It made me double over with laughter and want to stab myself at the same time:

You should be in Black Swan

#58 Bonnette

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 04:59 AM

Oh, Helene, that's marvelous...my reaction is identical to yours! :yucky: :rofl:

#59 dirac

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 11:08 AM

I agree with Ms. Lane when she says that the promotional pitch for this particular film - touting Portman as a balletic wunderkind - is the main concern here, compounded by ongoing misrepresentation after the fact on the part of the motion picture studio and principals.


I'd say if there was one thing the 20/20 segment made clear, it's that this is mostly about the Oscar, one way or another.

#60 Bonnette

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 04:33 PM

I'd say if there was one thing the 20/20 segment made clear, it's that this is mostly about the Oscar, one way or another.

Hi Dirac. In this particular case, that is probably the hinge - though dancers, the public and management (of both movie and dance companies) have been sensitized to the issues via Black Swan, and there could be repercussions as to how such issues are dealt with in the future. If the principals on the motion picture side had not made such a big deal about Portman's "training" and virtuosity in this film, the controversy would probably have simmered down by now; but - hoist on their own collective petard - they've opened the door to scrutiny and contractural challenges in the future, and that would seem (to me) to be the take-away from all that has happened.


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