Earlier this week, Oscar winner Natalie Portman‘s fiance Benjamin Millepied defended her dancing in “Black Swan.” Millepied was hired to choreograph routines for Portman, who had danced till she was 12 and spoke of spending more than a year training for this film. That was a compelling part of her narrative during the awards season.
However, little was said of the two ballerinas — Sarah Lane (photo, right) and Kimberly Prosa — who doubled for her in the more demanding sequences. According to Millepied, “she (Lane) just did the footwork, and the fouettés, and one diagonal [phrase] in the studio. Honestly, 85% of that movie is Natalie.” He didn’t make mention of the contribution of Prosa.
On Friday, Lane, a soloist with the American Ballet Theater, told Adam Markovitz (EW) “Of the full body shots, I would say 5 percent are Natalie.” As she explained, “The shots that are just her face with arms, those shots are definitely Natalie. But that doesn’t show the actual dancing.”
Lane says she kept a low profile because, “They wanted to create this idea in people’s minds that Natalie was some kind of prodigy or so gifted in dance and really worked so hard to make herself a ballerina in a year and a half for the movie, basically because of the Oscar. 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?”
The unedited version of the visual effects reel compiled by the studio includes many instances of Portman’s head being placed on Lane’s body in post-production. Our poll in the right-hand column asks you whether Portman would have won the Oscar had voters been aware of the extent of her dancing.