Coinciding perfectly with its Tuesday DVD release, “a major scandal” may leave Black Swan with a black mark on its publicity efforts, and Natalie Portman’s Oscar-winning performance as a prima ballerina in question.
Identified in the movie’s credits only as “Hand Model” and “Lady in the Lane” — and not thanked in Portman’s Best Actress acceptance speech — real-life ballerina Sarah Lane claims she was in fact Portman’s Black Swan dancing double.
“Basically, I did all of the dancing,” Lane told the Wall Street Journal‘s Speakeasy blog, among others. “And then they digitally put [Portman’s] face on my body.”
Lane, a soloist with
San Francisco New York-based American Ballet Theatre, says exec producer Ari Handel asked her not to speak to the press, “to create this facade that [Portman] had become a ballerina in a year and a half.”
In a recent blog post, Dance magazine editor-in-chief (and staunch Lane supporter) Wendy Perron blamed “a propaganda of omissions in the media” for reinforcing the belief that Portman did all her own dancing. Perron also pointed to a December 2010 Dance interview in which Lane talked about her work on the Black Swan set, including her experience with digital “face replacement.”
A widely circulated video showing how Black Swan filmmakers relied on computer-generated effects to put Portman’s face on Lane’s body — à la the Winklevoss Twins technique — appears to have been taken off-line Friday by Fox Searchlight. (A revised version is online now
and embedded below.*)
In response to Lane’s comments, Fox Searchlight issued statements both praising her work on the movie’s “more complicated dance sequences” and reiterating that “Natalie herself did most of the dancing featured in the final film.”
In his own statement, director Darren Aronofsky said of the film’s 139 dance shots, “111 are Natalie Portman untouched” — including the opening prologue’s 85-second final shot, which Portman danced in pointe shoes “completely without any digital magic.”
Black Swan choreographer-dancer Benjamin Millepied, too, defended Portman (no, not just because she’s carrying his child): As he told the L.A. Times last week, “Honestly, 85 percent of that movie is Natalie.”
For her part, Lane says she just wants her due credit. And she insists she’s not trying to take anything away from Portman, whom she calls “an amazing actor.”
But Natalie Portman as a ballerina? Not so amazing, Lane says. “To say that she did all of the dancing is absolutely ridiculous to anyone that knows anything about ballet.”
Portman, who in at least one interview mentioned she used a dancing double, has yet to issue a public response.
*The link is no longer working and the video seems to have been removed. We’ll re-post if it becomes available.