Natalie Portman: Dance Doubles?

Dance doubles for Natalie Portman in Black Swan say the Oscar winner didn't actually dance in most of the film. The choreographer is defending Portman, but the dancers are firing back!

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman won an Oscar for her portrayal of a ballerina whose ambition drives her to insanity in Black Swan. She was lauded for her killer dance moves -- but the two professional ballerinas who were her dance doubles say they did the lion's share of the work.

"Natalie took class, she studied for several months, from the waist up is her," said one of the women, Kimberly Prosa. "Sarah Lane, a soloist at ABT, did the heavy tricks, she did the fouettes, but they only had her for a limited time, a couple of weeks, so I did the rest of whatever dance shots they needed."

Benjamin Millepied, the movie's choreographer and Portman's fiance/baby daddy, came to his lady's defense.

"There are articles now talking about her dance double that are making it sound like [Lane] did a lot of the work," he said, "but really, she just did the footwork, and the fouettes, and one diagonal [phrase] in the studio. Honestly, 85-percent of that movie is Natalie."

Sarah Lane says he's full of it. She spoke to Entertainment Weekly. "The shots that are just her face with arms, those shots are definitely Natalie. But that doesn't show the actual dancing. 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?"

"I mean, from a professional dancer's standpoint, she doesn't look like a professional ballet dancer at all and she can't dance in pointe shoes. And she can't move her body; she's very stiff. I do give her a lot of credit because in a year and a half she lost a lot of weight and she really tried to go method and get into a dancer's head and really feel like a ballet dancer."

Point: Lane.

Portman has so far been silent on the issue as she is too busy decorating her Oscar-themed nursery.

Image courtesy Ian Wilson/WENN.com

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Comments on "Black Swan dancers take issue with Natalie Portman"

Laz June 12, 2013 | 4:29 PM

Why wasn’t Sarah Lane cast for leading role in Black Swan? She is a true ballerina, 22 years of dancing, She is also so much more beautiful than Natalie, but then the director couldn’t make his scene because Sarah Lane has respect for herself and can get by on her talent even though she has a gorgeous body. Natalie Portman Hershlag you are such a fake who deceived everyone to get a stupid oscar, good luck in your porn business.

Giselle May 27, 2012 | 4:40 AM

When i watched the movie''black swan''....i almost trow up. It is a filthy movie ...that it does NOT deserve an Oscar.Portman and Kunis are 2 filthy women....only because they accepted doing this''filth''.Portman lost her innocence looooooooooong time ago.I remember her in the ""Professional"" she was a 12 year old little girl....still (i hope) innocent.I bet Jean Reno the main actor on the ''Professional''is out of his mind seeing little Natalie in this filthy movie of black swan.She did not deserve on Oscar....she played dirty scenes with Kunis....and she did NOT dance at all....it was someone else....A russian ballerina.Kunis and Portman must repent ....this movie is real pornographic.

Danielle August 02, 2011 | 8:33 PM

Hey, we like Natalie Portman and if somebone doubles her on ballet moves, that's fine. Natalie is famous for her great smile and it's okay if somebody else did complicated dance moves for her. That role was for Natalie and dancers are not actors, so everyone is supposed to do their job. If these dancers did not like being cast as doubles, they could give their role to somebody else. People love Natalie and they are not interested in watching somebody's dance recital. They can't just go to a local dance school and there is a lot of them in there. Natalie is a great actress, so it's mean for dancers to pick on her dancing, since she is an actor, not a professional dancer.

jono April 03, 2011 | 4:06 PM

LISA, totally agree, way back i read an interview with natalie portman about the film, and i remember her complimenting the doubles. key word there!! DOUBLES !!! natalie is an actress, and she got the oscar for that! how often do you hear doubles being recognised? hardly ever, sorry Sarah Lane, fantastic dancing, but you should know better, if u want to be recognised, then compete in dancing as again... and not as a double !

Michelle March 30, 2011 | 8:31 AM

I am not surprised. Her body is stiff just like her acting.

Lisa March 28, 2011 | 6:28 PM

you are grossly misrepresenting the situation. Portman was widely quoted everywhere talking about having a double for the more complicated moves. Thinking people watching the film already know there was obviously a double, this is not complicated and it was never stated otherwise. Sarah Lane has not cited a single instance of anyone from the film mispresenting the fact that there was a dance double (she has not yet responded to Fox's statement of today, breaking down what they claim are the real numbers). Her worst allegation is that they asked her not to give interviews, but that is unsubstantiated (and not the same thing as outright falsification of the situation). Here is just one example of countless mentions of Natalie stating clearly that she had a double, and even complimenting Sarah: "Yes, yes, I was en pointe for - I mean, there's no way, obviously, I could have learned, you know, fouette turns en pointe for the film. That's something that takes a lifetime to perfect. So there's a wonderful dancer, Sarah Lane, who did the more complicated pointe work. But I did the stuff that was possible to learn in a year." And the other double, Kim, is simply reiterating the same thing Natalie et al have been saying all along. Kim backs up Natalie's side of the story (albeit not getting into specific figures). But it's very telling that Kim is very complimentary of Natalie and Sarah is not, and that Sarah makes no mention of Kim not receiving more credit. As for not mentioning Lane in her Oscar speech, when was the last time an actor credited their stunt/voice/body/dance double? The award was for ACTING. And Academy voters, unlike the lowest common denominator of the movie going public, are quite aware of special effects and stand ins! Nobody was "fooled" except the ignorant. So Lane appears to be miffed that stupid people don't realize that she's the one dancing. Those folks aren't going to stay and watch all the credits to find out who did. But even if they did, oh wait, there she is right there, "DOUBLE". This woman took a job she clearlyl didn't understand. She also speaks of an interest in acting in one of the Dance Magazine interviews. She clearly did not understand that her only role was to contribute to another role, that's what it means to be a DOUBLE. She has a chip on her shoulder about something that isn't even an issue for the non-idiot viewer. We know ballet is really hard. We know it's impossible to become a prima ballerina in a year, no matter your natural talent. We know special effects create illusions. We know they use stand-ins. WE'RE NOT IDIOTS.

Ava March 28, 2011 | 11:51 AM

I would be angry, too, if I danced my butt off in an Oscar-winning film and the actress got all the credit. BUT, to be fair, I think what made Black Swan so amazing was the acting. The dancing was cool, but by no means was it the defining point for Oscar worthiness. I think they should give Sarah Lane the credit she is due and let Natalie Portman get all the acting accolades.

ann March 28, 2011 | 11:03 AM

Frank, your comment is insulting to all women. Professional dancers spend years-decades in this case- working hard to perfect their craft. If Natalie has any class, she will give credit.where due and should have done so in her Oscar speech. Her choreographer/ babydaddy should know better, too - he sounds like a tool.

Popula March 28, 2011 | 10:17 AM

It is a valid point - takes decades to become a ballerina. These dedicated professionals deserve more credit, and the studios should know that. Although after working in post-production before, I believe that by now nobody, not the director, choreographer, animator, compositor, actress or dancers really know the exact percentages of whose dance work is used (in any other than torso shots, which Lane gives to Portman). Awesome work, brava dancers! Useless to argue about percetages of skin time.

frank March 28, 2011 | 10:11 AM

Just like the movie, the number 2 dancers try to derail the prima ballerina. Just envy and iness from malnourished discontents.

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