When Hollywood Takes Over: The Black Swan Debate

Posted on April 19, 2011

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Recently, there has been some controversy regarding a ballerina named Sarah Lane and her performance in the film, Black Swan. She has come out to announce that she performed most of the dancing and that Natalie Portman, who recieved an Oscar for her acting in the film, is getting most of the credit. Not surprisingly, the producers and even director Darren Aronofsky have asked Lane to keep this situation hush hush. In the credits, the American Ballet Theater soloist is listed as a “body double” with no mention at all for the dancing that she was hired to execute.

In Sarah Lane’s recent 20/20 interview she said, “I have so much resepct for this art form and the people who are able to do it beautifully. I want to stand up for them.” It is not realistic in the least bit to believe that Portman could execute perfect leaps and turns in the way that this classically trained American Ballet Theater dancer can. The fact is that they hired Sarah Lane for a reason. Natalie Portman has been training for a year and a half for this role and it is silly to expect anything more out of her than some powerful acting and graceful arms.

There is a lot of talk in the blogosphere about the fact that Sarah Lane is trying to call attention to herself. As a dancer and a lover of dance myself, it means so much to me and the rest of the dance community that Lane is letting the world know about the intense training that dancers endure in order to perform in a way that looks effortless. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly Lane said, “It is demeaning to the profession and not just to me. I’ve been doing this for 22 years.” If she was interested in gaining fame for this role, I believe that she would have hired a manager of some sort to be sure that her dancing was recognized in the credits at least. After all, Lane is already a world renowned soloist for one of the most famous ballet companies in the world.

I encourage you to watch Sarah Lanes 20/20 interview to understand the reality of this situation. There is clear evidence that Natalie Portman’s face was digitally edited onto the body of the dancer. It is scary to realize that these Hollywood directors and actors are so intent on hiding the fact that Sarah Lane has worked so hard to help make Black Swan the celebrated film that it has become.

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