The Still Swinging Sarah Lane

I’ve got to admit, I wanted to give Natalie’s dance double, Sarah Lane, the benefit of doubt. When the first article arrived, it felt like the author was the more bitter person and that possibly the quote wasn’t fully in context. Maybe she was just surprised at how filmmaking works? Well, no, the girl is not a happy bunny.

You should read the whole article over on EW, but here are the more “woah, seriously?” comments.

“I mean, from a professional dancer’s standpoint, she doesn’t look like a professional ballet dancer at all and she can’t dance in pointe shoes. And she can’t move her body; she’s very stiff,”

“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?”

Yes, you can. That’s the beauty of film, and everyone knows the score. There are hundreds if not thousands of people involved in the making of films. Rightly or wrongly, certain jobs get more credit and acclaim than others.
Lane’s stunt double work, and I’m sorry but that’s exactly what it is even if she doesn’t think the title is impressive enough, helped complete the illusion. But let’s face facts here, she could have been replaced by another ballerina and the film would have been exactly the same and just as successful.

There are a number of “well somebody is lying” aspects to this story, which unless you were there, it’s just impossible to know who is telling the truth. For instance, Lane says she was on set for 6 weeks and all but 5% of the full body shots were her. Benjamin Millepied said that Lane did “the footwork, and the fouettés, and one diagonal [phrase] in the studio” and the other stunt double, Kimberly Prosa, said that Lane was only on set for 2 weeks.

Hopefully in time we’ll get some more evidence one way or the other and I’m sure the DVD extras and Aronofsky’s commentary will shed a bit more light on exactly what is Natalie and what isn’t. But even if every footwork and full body dance shot is Lane, that still isn’t going to be more than 1-2 minutes of screen time. Most of the dancing takes place close up on Natalie’s face.

Barely a minute of screen time. You get paid. You get fairly credited in the film. They let you have a brief walk on role. Natalie mentions your involvement, by name, on more than one occasion. The film is a success. There is renewed interest in your profession. And you decide to crap on all of it?