Over the weekend the battle over whether Natalie Portman or her dance double did more of the pirouetting you see on screen in Black Swan raged on, even though the entire argument seems poorly timed.
Earlier this month, Dance magazine's Wendy Perron reported that American Ballet Theatre soloist Sarah Lane was deleted from a video about Black Swan's special effects. When asked for a response, Lane said she was asked to stop giving interviews until after the Oscars. "They were trying to create this façade 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."
Last week, Portman's fiance Benjamin Millepied defended her in the L.A. Times, saying of her dancing:
"It was so believable, it was fantastic, that beautiful movement quality. There are articles now talking about her dance double that are making it sound like [Lane] did a lot of the work, but really, she just did the footwork, and the fouettés, and one diagonal [phrase] in the studio. Honestly, 85% of that movie is Natalie."
Over the weekend, Lane responded to Entertainment Weekly, "Of the full body shots, I would say 5 percent are Natalie ... All the other shots are me." She continued:
"The shots that are just her face with arms, those shots are definitely Natalie, but that doesn't show the actual dancing ... They wanted to create this idea in people's minds that Natalie was some kind of prodigy or so gifted in dance and really worked so hard to make herself a ballerina in a year and a half for the movie, basically because of the Oscar ... 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?"
A special effects video, which has since been pulled from YouTube, reportedly shows how Portman's face was digitally imposed on Lane's body. The dancer says she wasn't promised any particular title for the film, but was disappointed when she was only credited as "Hand Model," "Stunt Double," and "Lady in the Lane" (a brief cameo).
Today, Fox Searchlight chimed in with this statement:
"We were fortunate to have Sarah there to cover the more complicated dance sequences and we have nothing but praise for the hard work she did ... However, Natalie herself did most of the dancing featured in the final film."
Certainly Lane deserves credit for her work, and it seems plausible that studio executives would have downplayed her role in the film. However, at this point it seems too late to do anything about it. Lane said she had a positive experience on the film in a December interview with Dance magazine, and she honored the studio's request to stop giving interviews until Perron approached her two weeks after the Oscars. It took Millepied another two weeks to comment, setting off a round of responses.
Portman has already won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for her performance, and she failed to mention Lane in both acceptance speeches. Arguing over Portman's dancing may boost sales of the Black Swan DVD (which coincidentally comes out on Tuesday) by keeping the film in the headlines. However, Lane still won't receive the credit she says she deserves. Since the Black Swan's PR cycle is over now, it's likely that most people won't even hear her side of the story.
Putting The Black Swan Blackout In Context [Dance Magazine]
Black Swan Double Claims Natalie Portman Only Did "5 Percent" Of Full-Body Dance Shots In The Movie [EW]
"Black Swan" Producers Defend Natalie Portman [Digital Spy]