Double Trouble: Portman's 'Black Swan' stand-in cries foul

Prima ballerina hired as a dance double for Natalie Portman says it was she, not the Oscar-winner, in most of the film's dance scenes.

By DEBRA KAMIN
April 18, 2011 13:59
1 minute read.
Sarah Lane, prima ballerina

Sarah Lane 311. (photo credit: courtesy)

 
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Sarah Lane, the prima ballerina who danced many of Israeli-born Natalie Portman's scenes in Black Swan, has said that the reports of the actress's dancing ability have been greatly exaggerated.

Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky has asserted nearly 80 percent of the film's dance scenes feature Portman herself. In the run-up to this year's Academy Awards, much was made of the fact that Portman underwent extensive ballet training for a year and a half prior to filming, losing 20 pounds and committing extensive time and focus to transforming her figure and technique.

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In an interview with ABC's 20/20, Lane stated that it was she, and not Portman, who appears in the majority of the film's dance scenes.

"Full body shots with actual dancing are me," she told ABC's Elizabeth Vargas. "That's why they hired me."

Lane, who is a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater, told Vargas that the only way Aronofsky could support his assertion of Portman's appearance in 80 percent of the dance scenes is if he counts close-up and face shots.

She said she was speaking out not to condemn Portman, who she believes deserved the Oscar for her acting ability alone, but rather to contest the idea that one can become a professional ballerina in a matter of months.

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"[Statements such as Aronofsky's] threaten the entire principle of ballet, then I feel like I need to say something," she said.

While the number of scenes featuring Lane remains contested, Black Swan's production team has always said they used dance doubles in the film.  Sophisticated editing technology was applied in the post-production phase to superimpose Portman's face onto Lane's body.

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