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Posted at 12:42 PM ET, 03/28/2011

Natalie Portman and the ‘Black Swan’ dance controversy


Natalie Portman: “Black Swan” semi-dancer? (Niko Tavernise - Fox Searchlight)

Update, 5:50 p.m. EST: Director Darren Aronofsky released a statement today via Fox Searchlight to defend Natalie Portman’s performance in “Black Swan.”

“There are 139 dance shots in the film,” he says. “111 are Natalie Portman untouched. 28 are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math that’s 80% Natalie Portman.”

“I am responding to this to put this to rest and to defend my actor,” he added. “Natalie sweated long and hard to deliver a great physical and emotional performance. And I don’t want anyone to think that’s not her they are watching. It is.” (Via EW)

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Ballerina Sarah Lane has publicly claimed that Natalie Portman — lauded for her Oscar-winning transformation into a professional (and psychotic) dancer in “Black Swan” — may not have done as much dancing in the film as the public has been led to believe.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lane, who acted as Portman’s dance double, says most of the complicated choreography was handled by her. “Of the full body shots, I would say five percent are Natalie,” Lane, who dances with New York’s American Ballet Theatre, tells the magazine.

That version of events contradicts what Portman’s fiance and the film’s choreographer, Benjamin Millepied, recently told the L.A. Times. “85 percent of that movie is Natalie,” he said.

Lane has suggested that producers of the movie wanted her to keep quiet about her part in the dance scenes so they could build an Oscar campaign for Portman, one that emphasized how thoroughly she immersed herself in the world of ballet.

If Lane’s story is true, though, does it really take away from the power of Portman’s performance? I say no.

What impressed me most about Portman’s work in “Black Swan” — and, I suspect, most critics and Oscar voters — was the way she convincingly portrayed a fragile young woman descending into madness. The dance part of it never factored into my assessment of her performance. Frankly, I just assumed that much of the choreography was handled by someone else or portrayed onscreen via editing and CGI trickery. Given how savvy most moviegoers are these days, plenty of other people probably made similar assumptions.

If Lane has provided an accurate depiction of what happened during production of “Black Swan,” I completely understand why she’s frustrated about not getting credit for her work. But I’m not sure that talking about it publicly does her any favors at this point.

Although the DVD does come out Tuesday. So maybe the people involved with the film aren’t that annoyed that Lane is getting a lot of media attention for speaking out right now. Any publicity is good publicity, right?

By  |  12:42 PM ET, 03/28/2011

Categories:  Movies

 
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