Petty controversy: Did Natalie Portman really do all her 'Black Swan' dancing?

The film's choreographer swears the actress performed most of her own moves, but Portman's "Black Swan" ballet double claims that's a big, fat lie

Natalie Portman with "Black Swan" Director Darren Aronofsky.
(Image credit: Niko Tavernise)

The petty controversy: In February, Natalie Portman took home the Best Actress Oscar for playing a taut, talented, psychologically tormented young ballerina in Black Swan. Much was made of Portman's pre-production training and dieting, and her preternatural ability to look, and dance, the part, after just a year and a half of instruction. The film's choreographer (and Portman's fiancé), Benjamin Millepied, who helped fuel that buzz, told the Los Angeles Times last week that Portman did 85 percent of the onscreen dancing, provoking Portman's dancing double, Sarah Lane, a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre, to speak out. She claims that Portman appeared in only about 5 percent of the full-body dance shots, and that she was told to keep quiet about it so that Portman would win the Oscar. "They wanted to create this idea in people's minds that Natalie was some kind of prodigy...," Lane tells Entertainment Weekly. But really, "she can't dance in pointe shoes... she can't move her body... she's very stiff," and it's "demeaning to the profession" to suggest she could become a ballerina in just 18 months.

The reaction: Someone should tell this jealous "Green Swan" dancer "that those aren't actually spaceships in Star Wars either," says Michael Seitzman in The Huffington Post. "Movie making is make-believe." There's only one way to sort out this "she-said, she-said mess," says Julie Ryan Evans at The Stir. "A good old-fashioned dance off!" Well, maybe this is just life imitating art, says Kyle Buchanan in New York. "In Black Swan, Natalie Portman is forever haunted by her double, and why shouldn't that continue into real life?"

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