On March 23rd the LA Times published an article in which Natalie Portman’s fiance, and lead choreographer for Black Swan Benjamin Millepied, remarked on how much of the dancing in the film was done by Portman herself. He estimated it to be around 85% of what we actually see in the film. Did ballerina and Portman dancing double Sarah Lane take kindly to this? She sure didn’t. Today, she told EW that the full body shots we see on screen were more like 5% Portman, with most of the shots consisting of Lane’s body with Portman’s face digitally imposed onto it. You can imagine it being a kick in the teeth when members of the crew, such as Millepied, attempt to play down your role in a film. Indeed, she was only credited with the titles ‘Hand Model’ and ‘Stunt Double’. Maybe ‘Main Dancer’ would have been more apt.
However, this is not the end to the controversy. Sarah Lane claims she was asked by producer Ari Handel not to talk about the film to the public, even though she was not contractually bound to do so. Even the leading lady herself appears to be covering up Lane’s involvement. In an interview with EW Portman stated “I do have a double for the complicated turning stuff. It was not anything I ever could have done in a year, nothing I could’ve caught up with. But I think it was just better for all of us if I did as much as possible.” It seems she is attempting to take credit where it is not due. There has so far been no comment from those Lane accuses of messing her around.
So what do you think? Would you agree that Lane should have been recognized for the work she put in or are you of the opinion that it is a benefit to the audience that we believe Natalie Portman is really dancing? Does the audience need this belief in Portman’s abilities to enjoy the film? Lane claims she is not publicizing her story out of jealousy for the leading lady, but in my opinion she is right to seek the credit she deserves.