How much dancing did Natalie Portman do? This has been a question circling around Black Swan since the Oscar nominations came out. We covered it here. The controversy died down after Portman won the Oscar. Well, it’s heated up again thanks to dancing double Sarah Lane telling the Wall Street Journal that she did “basically all the dancing”. The studio stands behind Portman. But no one ever believes a studio. However now someone has spoken up that people are likely to believe.
Here is the reality. I had my editor count shots. There are 139 dance shots in the film. 111 are Natalie Portman untouched. 28 are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math that’s 80 percent Natalie Portman. What about duration? The shots that feature the double are wide shots and rarely play for longer than one second. There are two complicated longer dance sequences that we used face replacement. Even so, if we were judging by time over 90% would be Natalie Portman. And to be clear Natalie did dance on pointe in pointe shoes. If you look at the final shot of the opening prologue, which lasts 85 seconds, and was danced completely by Natalie, she exits the scene on pointe. That is completely her without any digital magic. I am responding to this to put this to rest and to defend my actor. Natalie sweated long and hard to deliver a great physical and emotional performance. And I don’t want anyone to think that’s not her they are watching. It is.
We think this should end the controversy. It’s hard to believe that Aronofsky would make such specific claims (which could be easily countered) if they weren’t true.