More On Sarah LaneGate

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.