The Still Swinging Sarah Lane

By March 26, 2011Nat-news

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 But let’s face facts here, she could have been replaced by another ballerina and the film would have been exactly the same and just as successful.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?



Author Dazza

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Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • omgzrachel says:

    I’m kind of surprised Aronofsky/the producers/Fox Searchlight have kept mum on this. It’s really them who Sarah should be upset with considering Natalie was the one who acknowledged that she used doubles and gave them credit in interviews. Dismissing Natalie’s performance and acting as if her dancing didn’t count is just insulting and disrespectful. I mean, it’s fairly obvious that it’s not Natalie dancing in the full body shots and only the very naive would be fooled. Is she pissed she didn’t get a mention in Nat’s Oscar speech or something? This whole thing reeks of butthurt and unprofessionalism.

  • hlab0387 says:

    I can understand Sarah being upset if proper credit wasn’t given to her, but it seems like she wants to take away from the greatness of Natalie’s performance and subsequent Oscar win. The dancing was of course a big part of the story, but Natalie won for her acting. I feel like Sarah is trying to say her dancing was so important & contributed so much that if she hadn’t been Natalie’s double, Natalie wouldn’t have won. That’s just how I read the article. and like omgzrachel said, Sarah should take this up with the producers and Fox Searchlight, Natalie has nothing to do with who gets credit & how. I just feel like Sarah is attacking Natalie and I think if Natalie hadn’t won the Oscar, this wouldn’t have been brought to light.

  • nephi says:

    She’s not just claiming the dancing; she’s claiming the entire performance.

    I believe Benjamin because since people started accusing him of using Natalie to move up the ladder socially and professionally, he has refused to talk about her in interviews. So him bringing this up signals to me that he must be telling the truth.

    And as much as people will dismiss his opinion because of their personal relationship, he has always been very honest about Natalie’s evolution. From being worried initially when he saw her practice; to being impressed with how quickly she put his instruction into practice after they started working more closely together and her incredible discipline. All this while saying that you cannot become a ballerina in the time Natalie trained. Nobody in their right mind could expect this.

    I think Sarah Lane’s comments are actually good publicity for the film in a way; it proves that despite the protestations of the ballet world that the film’s depiction is really quite accurate!!

  • narkel says:

    This is getting really annoying, at the beginning I thought she might deserve some recognition but she’s trying to get an oscar award for 2 minutes of dance, it’s just silly. Natalie was good enough to never denied she got a body double while other actors always say they did all the work.
    This gilr knew her work would be exactly what it was, why now she’s like ‘oh I have so many years working and this is demeaning’, if she wasn’t comfortable with that then don’t do it. Be a pro and hold back. Did she really expected her name would be next to Natalie’s on the posters, the dvd cover and the awards?

  • omgzrachel says:

    Your point is another thing that bugs me about this, narkel. The “but I’m an ARTIST not a stunt double” attitude is ridiculous. Kimberly Prosa (Natalie’s other double, whom Sarah Lane seems to be hypocritically taking credit from) certainly seemed to know what her role was. Why not Sarah? Why even take the role in the first place if she felt it was beneath her?

  • Garcy says:

    What’s unfortunate is that people are calling Natalie out as a fraud for reportedly taking credit for doing ALL the dancing, when she has never made any such claim. Nat mentioned her double on Letterman and by name during her NPR interview. It wasn’t some sort of conspiracy. Anyone who believed Nat did all the dancing if too gullible for their own good.

  • natpfan1 says:

    This story is getting pretty tiresome. While I believe Benjamin Millepied was exaggerative, Sarah Lane wants more than she deserves.

    The worst thing is some commentators who are obviously ignorants. Aren’t the Academy Awards voters cinema professionals? They know the industry, they know the tricks. Natalie didn’t fool anyone to get her Oscar, she actually took lessons and transformed her body.

    As for people saying Natalie should have mentioned them in her acceptance speech, that’s non-sense, as simple as that. She thanked people she got involved with. Despite them being her doubles and having a major importance for the movie, they may not have talked to Natalie. Natalie did give them credit in interviews, that’s the best she could do.

  • v4v says:

    Here’s an excerpt of Lane’s interview with Wallstreet Journal

    “WSJ: How important was the dancing to this movie?

    SL: Of course it was everything to the movie. It’s called “Black Swan.” She’s a ballerina who goes crazy. You can’t make it realistic if you don’t have realistic dancing. It was a huge part of movie. And I know that’s why they wanted to hire a soloist or a principle from one of the biggest ballet companies in the world to be the double. I’m not just any double that you get, I’m not a stunt double that goes in and crashes through a mirror. It’s a lot different what I do.”

    Ego much? Does it take any less skill for a martial arts stunt double to do backflips or an intense choreographed fight scene, than it takes a ballet dancer to do jetes or fouettes? I would even argue that it takes a certain amount of skill to crash through a mirror dramatically/properly((so one doesn’t get hurt in the process) to make it look believable to audiences. Stunt doubles deserve more credit than they get, but it’s written in fine print on their contracts what credit they’ll get or likely to receive.

    I’ve been an avid fan of dance for many years, and there’s been too many instances where certain sectors of the ballet world have scoffed down upon other artforms, and in particular other forms of dance. The notion of ballet’s superiority in technique and refinement above that of let’s say hiphop, lyrical, jazz or contemporary/modern dance is not uncommon amongst the upper echelons of the ballet community.

    I’m sure there’s arrogance and raging egos in all professions. It’s just kinda sad that this one is getting so much media attention for all the wrong reasons. If and when Fox Searchlight or Natalie responds (and it is only a matter of time), I fear this isn’t going to end well for Sarah Lane, and it will be at her own making.

  • Nannina says:

    “Can you become a concert pianist in a year and a half, even if you’re a movie star?”

    I’m sure she has never thought about who actually is playing Adrien Brody’s hands in “The Pianist.”

  • Joba says:

    I think my problem with all this is how it’s been handled by everyone. Nat and mila both made a huge deal about how hard that they worked on dancing and losing weight for over a year. If it’s that hard, why not throw a bone to all the dancers, not just Sarah, who do this everyday for decades? I would think Ben would be more sympathetic. And how does he come up with 85%? I’ve seen the movie twice, and I can tell that there is a double more than just a couple minutes. Just my 2 cents

  • amo says:

    *pulls “she’s AFTER me” face*

  • AMSSERME says:

    If Sarah Lane is looking to downgrade Natalie and force her to give up or return her Oscar to the Academy,NOT GONNA HAPPEN!Her whining will only boost the Black Swan DVD-Blu-Ray sales when it comes out this Tuesday.Natalie won the Oscar for acting not dancing.If Natalie did 5% or 85% of the dancing that doesn’t matters,what matters is the story the movie is trying to tell and how it is shown.Natalie’s performance in showing the transition from white swan to black swan convincingly was what earned her the Oscar.If Miss Lane wanted credit for her work she should have stated it in the contract before signing it.

  • PatrynXX says:

    Maybe someone should explain to her that Ian Mckellen and Ian Holm aren’t actually in the same room together in FOTR. 😛 Seriously. You’d never know. One’s in a normal sized Hobbit hole and the other is in a smaller sized hobbit hole. X_X 15 minutes of fame I guess…

  • AMSSERME says:

    By attacking Natalie,Miss Lane is showing her true colors.She wants publicity and fame at Natalie’s expense.Her whining will get her nowhere.No movie studio will ever contract her again if she continues to attack Natalie or Fox Searchlight. The Academy should include at the Oscars an award for stunt actors or stunt doubles,this would keep people like Sarah Lane from whining and complaining.

  • jen.evar says:

    Any other body/stunt double in any other film wouldn’t be complaining about anything because they understand their job. It’s just the fact that Natalie Portman did such a great job in the film, IMO. Sarah Lane is just coming across as bitter and attention-seeking at this point.
    Anyone with a brain knows Natalie didn’t do ALL of the dancing in Black Swan. She spent a year preparing for a role and she pulled it off. People are acting like no other actor/actress has done it before. Take a look at the prep Angelina Jolie did for Tomb Raider (weapons training, yoga, kickboxing) or or what Taylor Lautner did for Twilight (gaining tons of muscle to look good without a shirt) or what Jamie Foxx did for Ray (learning Braille and piano, etc.). They are actors and their job is to prepare for the role they will be portraying. That is exactly what Natalie did and there is no reason for anyone to be bitching about it just because she won a bunch of awards for it. Sarah Lane especially. She was brought in as a body and dance double, not to be featured as a principal dancer or for Fox Searchlight to go around boasting “HI, LOOK AT NATALIE’S DANCE DOUBLE. PRAISE HER FOR DANCING EN POINTE.”
    Studios and productions don’t boast about extras and doubles. Their job is very specific. If Lane wasn’t happy about that then she shouldn’t have taken the opportunity and let them find another Natalie look-alike out of all the women who auditioned to be extras in the film. Not to mention the fact that this really doesn’t matter. Black Swan comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray Tuesday and Natalie has already won a Critic’s Choice, BAFTA, Golden Globe, Independent Spirit, SAG, and Academy Award for the role. Sarah Lane is just blowing hot air to an audience that doesn’t have any reason to care at this point. The only people this might sway are those who haven’t seen the movie yet and/or those who didn’t have a brain and assumed Natalie Portman did all of the dancing in the first place.
    I understand being irritated about not receiving a lot of credit, but to be fair it appears that Lane feels she deserves a lot more credit than she realistically should get and it is quite annoying. Natalie mentioned Lane on quite a few occasions and specified which moves and shots she was unable to perform. It’s not like she has been waltzing around holding her awards in the air claiming 100% credit. It would be in Lane’s best interest to just shut her mouth and be done with it. Complaining and coming across as a bitter attention whore isn’t going to help her career any.

  • dazza says:

    Joba – There’s barely 2 minutes of lower body closeups and full body dancing from Natalie’s character total. Aronofsky was really smart in doing so as it feels like there’s a lot more but in actuality, probably 80% of the dancing is close up on Natalie’s face and upper body.

    And Sarah Lane and other dancers did get props time and time again from Natalie.