One of my coworkers has been after me to see Black Swan for months now because she wanted my opinion on the dance double controversy. After finally getting around to watching it with SB this past week, I …kind of don’t see why it was such a big deal? The dance sequences in this movie are second only to Anne Bancroft’s in The Turning Point in terms of editing around the limitations of the actor, and none of the choreography we actually see is that difficult anyway. During the famous fouette sequence in the Black Swan coda, shots of Portman never show her supporting foot and upper body at the same time, which makes me think she may have been doing most of them on half-pointe (and this wouldn’t have been the first ballet movie to splice together a string of fouette turns anyway, Center Stage). Portman clearly worked very hard and is completely believable doing what she’s asked to do, but she’s not really asked to do that much. I can understand Sarah Lane being irked that her work was pretty much ignored, but one might have thought Portman was claiming to be firing off entire variations in a single take, when truthfully there’s no dance sequence in any part of the film that lasts longer than 30 seconds except for the barre exercise (during which no one dancer is a focus for more than 5 seconds at a time). Portman made me believe in Nina’s transcendent final performance almost solely with her eyes and body language, which is why the controversy is so beside the point in the first place.
Category Archives: ballet
Perhaps a later history will view all these as the final gutterings of a spent flame. This is no golden age, and several of its ballets are indeed dead. My own main alarm about ballet — not one that troubles Ms. Homans — is that its dependence on pointwork for women and partnering by men proposes a dichotomizing view of the sexes that is at best outmoded and at worst repellently sexist. Nevertheless, this balletgoer testifies that the scene feels brighter than it did 10, 15 or 20 years ago.
That’s an entire paragraph of Alistair Macauley that not only didn’t make me roll my eyes, it made me cheer at my computer screen. I have to stop totally hating him now. Not that he didn’t pull his share of name-dropping condecension in the rest of the review, but he’s no longer completely dismissable as a high art snob.