Trainer Talk

Dance Magazine has an interview with Marina Stavitskaya, who was one of Natalie’s ballet trainers for Black Swan. In the interview there are a couple Black Swan questions, and Marina, in response, has some more details and very kind words for Natalie.

Natalie Portman thanked you in her Academy Award acceptance speech. How did you end up working with her?

Benjamin Millepied called me and said “Marina, I would like you to work with Natalie and show her precise Vaganova style.” When I met her, I could see she had studied ballet before. In class, she was like a mathematician, very serious and determined to take each correction—working on her feet, legs, back, and arms. She achieved a lot. She did fouettés and piqué turns on pointe. Her arms were slightly different than I wanted, so we worked on them, bringing a little Russian touch. I enjoyed working with her and felt we had a good connection.

There has been some controversy over the fact that she had a body double in the movie. But you say she can definitely dance, right?

Natalie got her Oscar not for her dancing but for her role in Black Swan. That said, she made a big jump from actress to be able to dance on pointe. Obviously, the most difficult technical movements her double, Sarah Lane, performed in the film. But Natalie did a lot. She had very hard training. Every day, she took classes and rehearsed. She worked with several teachers. Everyone contributed something to her style, her movement, and her character in this film. That’s why she thanked us. And it was very sweet and nice of her. I was surprised to hear my name, but from another point, I thought, “This is Natalie. She’s a very special, beautiful human being.”