More On Sarah LaneGate

By March 18, 2011Nat-news

If you didn’t read about the Black Swan body double controversy, head over here for the update from last weekend.

A new article, picking up on that Dance Magazine feather ruffle, continues to throw support behind the injustice of poor Sarah Lane. They even go as far as to say, “She was playing a ballet dancer. The quality of her dancing was under scrutiny. So aren’t we compelled to say that a good 50% of that Oscar statuette, if not more, is really Sarah Lane’s?”

I had my say on the subject last weekend, and don’t really have anything more to add. But Fanatical made a great forum post on the subject and, if you head after the jump, I’m going to reproduce it here.

From this point on, everything is written by Fanatical.

I strongly believe that any contribution made to any piece of work fully deserves credit and it’s unfortunate that Sarah Lane feels she hasn’t received that but she has not been overlooked and ignored. If people aren’t aware that Sarah Lane was Natalie’s dance double then they really have not been following Black Swan at all because I checked and there are so many articles/reviews that mention Sarah’s contribution to the film. Maria Riccetto (Mila’s double) has had even less recognition but of course Mila wasn’t up for all the awards.

Natalie’s other double Kimberly Prosa – aside from one or two articles I could find – has had even less recognition:

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,” says the New York-based dancer, shown at left with elements on her face, ready for CGI technology.

“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.

“It was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my career,” Prosa concludes, her voice ringing with pride.

But Sarah hasn’t mentioned Kimberly has she? She makes it sounds like she did EVERYTHING for Natalie.

Natalie has NEVER claimed that she did ALL of the dancing and that she was a professional level ballerina with just one year of training. Is it her fault that some silly people have been calling up ballet companies asking if she is performing? Abosolutely not!

She has shown the utmost respect to the ballet world. Even downplaying her injuries by saying that it was nothing compared to those that ballet dancers endure and how her year of training is also nothing compared to the lifetime of dedication of ballet dancers.

GROSS: Did you have to do en pointe for “Black Swan”?

Ms. PORTMAN: Yes, yes, I was en pointe for – I mean, there’s no way, obviously, I could have learned, you know, fouette turns en pointe for the film. That’s something that takes a lifetime to perfect.

So there’s a wonderful dancer, Sarah Lane, who did the more complicated pointe work. But I did the stuff that was possible to learn in a year.

npr interview

“It’s incredibly challenging, trying to pick up ballet at 28,” Portman says. “Even if you’ve taken dance lessons before, you just don’t realize how much goes into it at the elite level. Every small gesture has to be so specific and so full of lightness and grace.”


Of course, there’s one final question everyone wants to know the answer to: How much of the dancing in the film did Portman actually do? According to her — as she explained with a clear note of pride in her voice — nearly all of it. “I did everything, and the dance double — Sarah Lane, who’s a really wonderful dancer — they shot us both doing everything, but because most of the film is in close-up, they’re able to use me. The parts I couldn’t do were because it’s doing very complicated turns on pointe. They would shoot me doing it in flat shoes and Sarah doing it in pointe shoes and find a way to make that work.” “Black Swan” opens in limited release this week. – I can’t do fouettes at all

What really irks me as well is the arrogance of some of the members of the ballet world that they feel it is the DANCING not Natalie’s ACTING that is solely responsible for the acclaim. In fact alot of Natalie’s detractors feel this way. They faill to realise the wonderful combination of these two artforms and how they compliment each other to create a wonderful performance.

People think there’s so little skill and effort involved in acting. ANYBODY can do it right? It’s so easy.

There are alot of professions that require incredible discipline, diligence and skill and from a young age. Ballet is not unique in this regard but boy do they love to make sure everybody knows how hard they work.

I just hate how Natalie is being made out to be some sort of liar and a dishonest person and somewhat undeserving of her acclaim. It seems that people are always trying to knock her. I could never have imagined that an acceptance speech could cause this much outrage.

I wonder if this grab at credit would be the same if Black Swan bombed. One thing is for sure Natalie would have had to shoulder the failure.

I fear that Natalie’s win for Black Swan will not age well. I never needed her to win an Academy Award to validate my belief in her as an actress but I hope that someday she can win one again without people thinking she had to rely on physicality and tricks.


Author Dazza

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Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • omgzrachel says:

    I agree with everything Fanactical said. I don’t even know what to say to this anymore. The more I think about this “controversy” the more ridiculous I find it. The audience is to believe that the character Nina Sayers is a prima ballerina, correct? Natalie Portman, even after years of training, would probably not be able to convince even a clueless general audience that she was dancing at that level. It is my understanding that if you start ballet as an adult, no matter how hard you work, you will never be able to dance professionally. Naturally she would need a double to bring believability to the role (and apparently even the doubles couldn’t convince the ballet community since I remember reading reviews where the dancing in the final act was scoffed at). How is this fact difficult to accept? That people believe that Natalie was doing all of the dancing is just crazy to me and I know next to nothing about ballet (well, aside from knowing that it is extremely difficult). And this is beside the fact that the head replacement looked fairly obvious in some scenes. They should only be shocked and offended by their own stupidity, tbqh.

    What bothers me the most is the focus that is placed on dancing in this film when it was clearly a character piece. I’m just going to have to assume that the people crying foul and calling Natalie a fraud never actually saw Black Swan and are making accusations based off of the dance-heavy TV promos. Come on, even the majority of the final act — where most of the difficult footwork was showcased — took place in a dressing room and behind the stage.

  • dazza says:

    For someone bored, watch the film and add up the minutes where Natalie is doing difficult moves with the face switch, or the camera is focused just on the lower body. I’d be amazed if it adds up to even 4 or 5 minutes of screen time.

  • jen.evar says:

    Stunt doubles are rarely recognized. When actors win awards and/or gain recognition for a role you hardly ever hear them mention their doubles nor do they give them credit. Seeing that Natalie has mentioned her doubles in several areas, both of them at that, I think it’s fair to say Sarah Lane is being a little too much of an attention seeker. Yes, I agree that Natalie should have mentioned the dance doubles in her acceptance speeches since she thanked everyone else under the sun, but you can’t really blame anyone for their mind going blank 2 minutes after winning an Oscar.

  • AMSSERME says:

    I think the one’s to blame should be Fox Searchlight,because it was them who said that Natalie had done 90 percent of the dancing and 10 percent the doubles.But Natalie never said she had done all the dancing and as Fanatical has proven Natalie did gave credit to Sarah Lane for her contribution.At the Oscars Natalie had little time to mention everyone so it’s understandable that Sarah Lane wasn’t mentioned.I don’t think Natalie has to win another Oscar to prove that she is the Best Actress,she already did.Black Swan is by far her best performance,and the fact that the film was so successful at the box office proves that she did an admirable job and deserved her Oscar.I think all these criticsism and whining are based in envy on those who cannot accept Natalie’s success.

  • spoonbat says:

    A tempest in a teapot really.

    The double should have known this is how the game is played. Even if she contributed hugely to Natalie’s performance(meaning if you see the double, it’s still considered “Natalie’s”) then it shouldn’t be an issue.

    The big name always gets all the credit, that’s how its done.

    Either way, I could care less. The Oscars were incredibly boring this year, from the parts I did watch. Franco didn’t even look like he wanted to be there and again, this all goes back to the classic argument of whether actors should even give a fuck about the Academy’s opinion given there is no solid way to ‘quantify’ and ‘measure’ performance.

    Half the time it’s a popularity contest and half the time they do it because it’s the critics consensus opinion. Other times they do it just to make a statement.

    Opinions for or against BS are like opinions for everything else — opinions are, as the phrase goes, like assholes, everybody has one.

    Probably 90% of the people who watch the Oscars only do so anyway for the fashion shit at the start of the show. The other 10% are the wonks who can’t agree on anything for any significant amount of time and most average people don’t pay attn. to them anyways.


  • jen.evar says:

    I agree with AMSSERME… Natalie doesn’t need another Oscar to prove she’s a good actress. She’s already a 2-time Oscar nominee with one win and a 3-time Golden Globe nominee with two wins. She previously got snubbed with nominations for two films, imo. She should have been nominated for V for Vendetta and/or Garden State.

  • PatrynXX says:

    Well it’s not quite so obvious as Star wars although for a number of years it was Keira who??

  • sweezysara says:

    This controversy is really non-sense ever!
    the movie was all about a ballerina who really wants to be perfect! what’s the matter with Natalie having a double in this movie? Obviously, the two main characters need to have another person to portray the hard scenes, right?
    Gosh! what a senseless issue!

  • beatsbroken says:

    I completely agree with everything Fanatical said! I was speaking with a friend the other day about this.. and they brought up a good point: Often times we see the best actress winners go through major physical changes for their roles. Charlize Theron in Monster, Nicole Kidman in The Hours, etc. If we took away Kidman’s prosthetic nose she wore in the Hours, would she be any less deserving of her award? Should we credit her incredible performance 100% to that prosthetic? Part of Kate Winslet’s transformation in The Reader relied heavily on CGI to age her in the final scenes. Are we to say she isn’t deserving because of this?

    Most of film making is about illusions, manipulation, etc. Darren Arronofsky did an incredible job of weaving many elements (CGI, dance doubles, music, etc) to help Natalie shine in her role. All season I appreciated how Natalie thanked Darren and really showed him the upmost respect and love. I think as an actor, you can only do so much and then the rest is left up to the director, editors, etc. So I really think it’s unfair that all of this seems to be resting on Natalie’s shoulders. And I think this is a case of pure jealousy. These dancers signed on knowing their faces would not be featured in the film and I can almost guarantee that if this film had failed, no one would be saying anything. But because it was this huge success, everyone is just trying to get their piece of the pie.

  • emoss says:

    I blame the producers…it’s was them who make Natalie looks bad in the end, just 4 an Oscar

    But i’m also feel sorry 4 all the body double 4 din’t get “proper credits 4 their hard work”

    But i’m sure if Natalie mention their names when Oscar acceptance this “news” wouldn’t be controversial like this…to bad she din’t because the producers want it that way…but i guess if Natalie make clear statement about this in her new interview, everybody would be glad {don’t know when,she’s busy with her unborn baby things}

    In the end i salute to Kimberly who seem more honest about her experience being body double 4 Natalie 🙂