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Black Swan | Natalie Portman vs Sarah Lane | Who Did What? | A Scene by Scene Review

An in-depth analysis of the dancing in the movie Black Swan

Click to see post images in an overlay

It is my goal in this blog to give my personal assessment of the dance scenes in Black Swan. I feel that the percentages that have proliferated the internet about who is doing what have no real meaning for anyone.   I don’t think anyone really knows to what someone is referring when they speak of dance shots, pointe work, ballet dancing, or full body shots.  It is my goal to review the movie and provide my own calculations with all the details of how I made those calculations and for what it stands. These are my own opinions and assessments and may contain error.  I welcome those who wish to point out my mistakes or provide additional insights.  This isn’t a blog about undue credit, but a blog to explore one person’s perception of the dancing, movie, and its marketing.

It am listing out the dance scenes below and hypothesize which dancer is being filmed.  Please note:  I know there was another stunt double for Natalie.  It is possible that some of the credit I may give her should go to Kimberly Prosa. Prosa states in the article linked to her name, “Natalie took class, she studied for several months, from the waist up is her. Sarah Lane a soloist at ABT, did the heavy tricks, she did the fouéttes, but they only had her for a limited time, a couple of weeks, so I did the rest of whatever dance shots they needed.”  Sorry, in advance if I say Sarah Lane and it really was you!

I already expect to see more time of Natalie “dancing” than of Sarah.  It is logical.  How much of this dancing is upper body only or spotting?  How much of it is what dancer’s would call dancing–such as the rehearsal of the Black Swan on Stage / “Again” scene. That scene was all Portman dancing, and you could easily tell. (Not bad for someone who only trained a year!).

What I am trying to calculate

  • Total time spent “dancing” in the film
  • Total time Natalie spent dancing subdivided by Full Body, Upper Body Only, time on Pointe
  • Total time Sarah Lane spent dancing
  • Number or dance scenes using a double verses those with none.

Forseen Issues

  • Time on pointe is going to be difficult to calculate.  This is because Portman may be on pointe but filmed from the waist up (as in the prologue scene).  In addition, the video editors have added pointe sounds to the video when Portman isn’t really on pointe (as in the audition scene when Portman is doing the White Swan variation.  There is a shot of Portman in the mirror clearly not on pointe, though there are pointe sounds).
  • Time on pointe is only counted when Portman is actually standing on her toes, not just wearing pointe shoes.  A one-year student wearing pointe shoes in class but not actually doing “actual” pointe work can’t say they dance en pointe.
  • Defining dancing.  I will for the sake of this calculation count Portman’s video of spotting as dancing.  Though, in actuality it isn’t.  I have absolutely no idea what she is doing with her body when she is spottting (quick whipping of the head when turning).  I will assume that Portman is doing all the related footwork when film is only showing upper body.
  • In the age of digital editing…who knows what is “real”?

I am in no way stating this as actual fact–these are my opinions only. All times are estimates. And sometimes you will see Lane credited when it should have been just “double” (Prosa)

Preface | Portman’s Real Ballet Skils

These are some snapshots of video I found that are clearly Natalie Portman.  I think she looks mighty fine to have only trained for a year, but in no way would I or even she claim to look professional.  Her feet aren’t that great; she doesn’t appear to have the strength to keep them well pointed, but that is understandable.  They aren’t that badly arched; though she tends to sickle her foot a tad (definately doesn’t have those pretty winged feet you see in the film).  She has excellent carriage. She is adequately flexible, but her back seems to lack the strength and/or flexibility to get her leg up any higher than demi-hauteur. I don’t think that she can’t, but she might throw off the perfect upper body if she did.  She coordinates her head and arms very well.

I don’t think her skills are bad for the amount of training she has had, as some articles might lead you to believe.  She probably won’t be featured in _any_ ballet company’s version of Swan Lake solely based on her ballet skills, but that isn’t the point–she is an actress not a ballerina.  She acts the role of a ballerina damn well in my opinion–well deserving of the Oscar she received.

Click on Gallery Image to see sub-images

Click for Training Images

Natalie in Class

Natalie's Passe

Natalie going to fifth in releve

Natalie's fifth position in releve

Foot strech in pointe shoes

Other images

Natalie b+

Close-up of the feet

Natalie bourees demi-pointe

Coming out of a lift

Natalie in lift

Natalie in lift different angle

Another view for the feet's sake

Natalie Rehearsing Pas de Duex

Rehearsing Pas de Duex

Natalie coming out of an dem-hauter arabesque

Natalie going into a turn

1 Prologue

Time Index: 1:16 to 3:24

  • Double: Yes
  • Portman: Yes
  • Pointe Work: Yes
  • CGI: Yes

What I saw:

  • 1:17 -1:48 | Sarah (I originally was going to give the first 10 seconds to Natalie, but after further review, I am giving it to Sarah.
  • 1:49-1:56 | Face Replacement.  This is confirmed by the DVD extras
  • 1:56-3:22 | Natalie — Lots of filming from the waist up scene ends with Portman on pointe doing bourees, in a very foggy atmosphere.

Break Down (approximate):

  • Time Spent Dancing:  2:08
  • Natalie:   1:29
    • o:75 Upper Body
    • 0:14 Full Body counts when camera gets below tutu
    • 0:34 Pointe Work if upperbody camera work was done on pointe, otherwise…take off a lot of seconds. I am giving full credit for all because choreographer said 85 seconds of point work, but I really only can guess she was doing bourees for the 34
  • Sarah: ~0:39 including sitting down

Scene Summary:  Of the 128 seconds spend dancing, Natalie was seen 69.5% of the time.  Of that percentage, 84% was filmed from the upper body and 16% full body (when camera gets below tutu) only and 38% of it was on pointe–speculating to her advantage to the fact that she was on point or not. Sarah Lane performed 30.5% of the time.

Natalie Portman 69.5% (84% U, 16% F, 39% P) | Sarah Lane 30.5%

Sarah Lane in the Prologue

Sarah Lane in the Prologue

CGI Head Replacement

CGI Head Replacement

CGI Result
Portman in the Prologue

Portman in the Prologue

(Not Counted) Stretching at Home

Time Index: 3:46 to 4:20

This is when Natalie is recalling her dream to her mother.  Though, I don’t consider this dancing I will include it for review only and not calculate in the final amounts.

Break Down

  • Time Spent “Dancing”:  0:12.5 seconds
  • 100% goes to Natalie
Natalie 6 o'clock stretch

Natalie 6 o'clock stretch

Check out the shape of her foot and leg.  I think that is important.  Nice flexibility, though it is more of a yoga pose than a 6 o’clock stretch.

2 Company Class

Time Index: 7:49 to 11:13

  • Double: No
  • Portman: yes
  • Pointe work: no
  • CGI: No

What I saw:

  • 7:49-8:22 Actual Dancing | Upper Body with a couple seconds of full body
  • 8:36-9:58 Actual Dancing | Upper Body only
  • 11:07-11:12 Actual Dancing | Upper Body with a couple seconds of full body
  • I am not including the putting on pointe shoes and stretching feet that comes just before the class scene.
  • Funny they show her putting on pointe shoes before company class, but she is not wearing them in the very next scene.

Break Down:

  • Time Spent Dancing: 2:05.0
  • Natalie:  1:09.7 | 0:57.0 Upper Body | 0:12.0 Full Body |0:0.0 Pointe Work

Scene Summary: of the 123 seconds of dancing Portman danced 100%, though only appearing in the scene 56% of the time).  Of this 56%, the upper body 0nly was shown 82% and full body 17%.  Pointe work attributed to 0%.  I would like to add that Portman was dancing the whole two minutes of this scene; however, we did not see it.  I am only including time you can actually see someone dancing.

Portman 56% (82% U, 17% F, 0% P) | Other dancers 44%

Click on the image below to see more from the Company Class Scene

Portman in Company Class

Portman in Company Class

3 Swan Queen Audition

Time Index: 12:52-15:04

  • Double: Yes
  • Portman: Yes
  • Pointe Work: No
  • CGI: Yes

What I saw:

  • 12:52-13:08 | Portman is filmed from the upper body only; however, the reflections show the full body.  Ironically, it is these reflections that reveal Portman is not dancing en pointe as the sounds in the movie would lead you to believe.
  • 13:09-13:22 | Face Replacement confirmed by DVD Fx section Sarah Lane.  This is all the pointe work.  Even without the FX video revealing the face replacement, you can tell by looking at the legs.
  • 13:22-13:26 | Shows Portman finishing the variation (2 seconds).
  • Not counting her walking to prepare for the Black Swan coda or feet stretching as dancing.
  • 14:00-14:22 | Black Swan Coda switches from Natalie spotting to Lane turning and the director giving corrections.  — About half of this time you see dancing, but most likely dancing is occurring. Remember I am not counting dance time off film that you cannot see (or confirm).

Break Down:

  • Natalie 26.3 seconds | 26.3 Upper Body | 0 Full Body | 0 Pointe Work
  • Lane 0.13 seconds

Scene Summary: Of the 43 calculated seconds (this is more than actual because they shared seconds there is about 32 actual dancing seconds.  They share seconds during the turns, so I gave them one second credit for both). Portman danced 58%, 100% filmed of the upper body, 0% full body, and 0% Pointe work. Lane performed 42%.

Portman 58% (100% U, 0% F, 0%P) | Lane 42%

Mirror shows Portman is not dancing en pointe

Portman not dancing en pointe

CGI Face Replacement in Combination

CGI Face Replacement in Combination

Black Swan Coda Turning Sequence

Black Swan Coda Turning Sequence



4 Coda Practice at Home

Time Index: 16:31-17:38

  • Double: Yes
  • Portman: Yes
  • Pointe Work: No
  • CGI: Yes

What I saw:

  • 16:31-17:00 I am not calling this dancing.  Putting on your pointe shoes is not dancing
  • 17:00-17:22 Foutte turns alternating between Portman’s head and Lane’s feet
  • I am really having a hard time calling the shots of spotting dance, but nevertheless, I have to count it. For all I know she used that box shown in the dvd extras to step up and turn around and not do a “ballet” turn at all.  But that is what too much speculation.
  • Taking off pointe shoes not included in dance time either

Break Down:

  • Natalie: 0:12 | 0:12 Upper Body | 0 Full Body | 0 Pointe Work
  • Sarah: 0:10

Of the 22 seconds of dancing time, Natalie performed 55% with only the upper body (actually head) being shown.  Sarah performed 45% of the time.

Portman 55% (100% U, 0% F, 0% P) | Lane 45%

Putting on Pointe shoes not counted

Is this considered dancing?

Portman Spotting

Portman's Dancing was spotting

Lane's Contribution

Lane's Contribution foutees

5 White Swan Rehearsal

Time Index: 26:32-28:01

  • Double: No
  • Portman: Yes
  • Pointe Work: No
  • CGI: No

What I saw:

  • 26:32-27:31 Portman doing well with the upper body moves of the vulnerable White Swan

Break Down:

  • Natalie:  01:02 | 1:02 Upper Body | 0 Full Body | 0 pointe work

Scene Summary: Of the 62 seconds of dancing time, Natalie did 100% of the dancing.  Of which, 100% was shot of the upper body and there was 0% full body or pointe work.

Natalie 100% (100% U, 0% F, 0% P) | 0% Lane/Double

Portman does 100% herself

Portman dances 100%

Lovely Swan Arms

Lovely Swan Arms

Only Upper Body FilmingOnly Upper Body Filming

6 Wing Practice

Time Index: 28:03-28:41

  • Double: Yes
  • Portman: Yes
  • Pointe Work: No
  • CGI: No

What I saw:

  • 28:03-28:11 Portman practicing arms with instructor
  • 28:12-28:21 Dance Double (I’m calling Sarah Lane, but it could be Kimberly Prosa)
  • 28:22-28:41 Portman again practicing swan arms with instructor

Break Down:

  • Natalie: 0:27 | 0:27 Upper Body | 0 Full Body | 0 Pointe Work
  • Sarah (double): 0:09

Scene Summary: of the 36 seconds of dancing, Portman danced 75% of the time. 100% of that was filmed of the upper body, whereas 0% was full body or pointe work.  A dance double performed 25%, all of the pointe work

Natalie 75% (100% U, 0% F, 0% P) | Lane/Double 25%

Portman was filmed upper body only

Upper body filming only

Double's Footwork

Double's Footwork

7 On Stage Class Center Work

Time Index: 40:39-41:21

  • Double: No
  • Portman Yes
  • Pointe Work: No
  • CGI: No

What I saw:

  • 40:39 Ballet class grand allegro starts panned out
  • 40:50 Natalie begins to dance (I start counting when she is getting ready for the combination…see image
  • 41:02 Natalie is done with the combination and I stop counting dance time because everyone is running to the center to find out about Beth.

Break Down:

  • Natalie: 0:12 | 0:12 Upper Body | 0:00 Full body | 0:00 Pointe work
  • Other Dancers: 0:11

Scene Summary: Of the 23 seconds of total dance time, Portman was in 52% of the scene.  100% was filmed of the upper body and there 0% of pointe work.  The other 48% of the scene featured other company dancers performing class work.

Portman 52% (100% U, 0% F, 0% P) | Other Dancers 48%

Natalie doing center work

Dance time calculation started around here

Portman Beautiful and Believable

Portman, Beautiful and Believable

Upper body the whole time

Upper body the whole time

8 Black Swan Rehearsal/ Hair Down

Time Index: 45:38-45:57

  • Double:  No
  • Portman: Yes
  • Pointe Work:  No
  • CGI: No

What I saw:

  • 45:38-45:57 lots of close ups.  Since I could see her feet in a couple lifts she gets about 2 seconds of full body credit, though those frames were obscured by the ballet director.
  • No pointe shoes!  In the lift, you see she is wearing ballet slippers.

Break Down:

  • Natalie: 0:19 | 0:17 Upper Body | 0:02 Full Body |  0 Pointe Work

Scene summary: of the 19 seconds of dance, Portman was in 100% of the scene. 89% of the scene was upper body only and 12% was full body (this was a generous offering). 0% was on pointe.

Portman 100% (89% U, 12 % F, 0% F) | 0% Lane/Double

More of Portman upper body only

More of Portman upper body only

Those do not look like pointe shoes

Those do not look like pointe shoes

Another view of the foot in slippers

Another view of the foot in slippers

9 Black Swan Rehearsal | “I’ll be the Prince….”

There is something weird in the scene.  While I watch it I couldn’t help think there was something weird going on in the mirrors.  I think the dancer in the mirror isn’t the same as the dancer dancing and/or, it could be two separate takes spliced together.

Time Index: 46:36-4927

  • Double: Yes
  • Portman: Yes
  • Pointe work: No
  • CGI: Maybe, not face replacement…mirror tricks

What I saw:

  • 46:36-46:49:  Filmed of the mirror; this must be a double look at the legs and feet. Then changes to a long shot of the double. Then changes view again of the double doing a lift.
  • 46:50-46:54:  Portman is shown coming out of the lift in the mirror behind the director, blurry to in-focus.  She is not wearing pointe shoes.
  • 46:55-47:47: Ballet director harasses Nina.  Since this is dialogue it is not included in total time
  • 47:48-48:16: Portman starts dancing with the director
  • 48:17-48:21: Camera angle changes during the lift. We are now seeing a double.  Or are we….this may be Portman in the lift and by the time she makes it to the ground they have switched her out…I am saying this because there is something strange with the mirrors in this segment.  The dancer in the mirror doesn’t match the dancer.
  • 48:22-48:22:  Portman filmed coming out of a lift again.  Time is calculated to end of kiss.

Break Down:

  • Natalie: 0:32 | 0:30 Upper Body | 0:02 Full Body | 0:00 Pointe work
  • Lane/Double: 0:27

Scene Summary: Of the 49 seconds of total dance time, Natalie was in 54% of the shots.  94% was filmed of the upper body/ 6% Full body. There was 0% pointe work.  Lane, which I actually think some of this dancing was Natalie’s other double Prosa, was seen in 46% of the shots.

Portman 54% (96% U, 6% F, 0% P) | Lane/Double 46%

Scene starts out with a double

Scene starts with double Click to view more



Portman Comes In with No Pointe Shoes

Portman Comes In with No Pointe Shoes

After a little break NP starts

After lights on/off NP starts dancing again

We are back to a double now

We are back to a double now


Portman coming back into the scene

Portman coming back into the scene

These dancer's don't match

These dancer's don't match | Click to see more



10 Black Swan Rehearsal on Stage/”Again”

If you are interested in seeing Natalie Portman dancing, this is the scene for you.  She appears her in pointe shoes, dancing full out, and you can see her whole body.

Time Index: 52:37-54:34

  • Double: No
  • Portman: Yes
  • Pointe Work: Yes, one fifth position into a slide in fifth with partner.
  • CGI: No

What I Saw:

  • 52:37-52:50 Blurry shot of Portman dancing with ballet director focused in the back this is counted as dance time.
  • 52:50-53:01 No Dancing
  • 53:02-53:38 Full body shot with Portman dancing en pointe and partnering.  The only thing on pointe she did was fifth position, hold, slide, and quarter turn to off pointe
  • 53:39-53:36 No Dancing
  • 53:37-53:43 Portman starts dancing again full body to upper body shot
  • 53:44-54:30  No Dancing
  • 54:31-54:34 Portman continues dancing

Break Down:

  • Portman 0:58 | 0:18 Upper Body | 0:40 Full Body | 0:58 Pointe
  • Lane/Double 0:00

Scene Summary:  Of the 58 seconds of dancing, Natalie performed 100% of the scene.  31% was filmed of the upper body only and 70% full body.  100% of this scene was performed in pointe shoes.

Portman 100% (31% U, 70% F, 100% P) | Lane/Double 0%

This type of filming accounts for 13 seconds

This type of filming accounts for 13 seconds

The combination Starts

Natalie's footwork quality click more images

Images of a lift

Images of a lift and one transition step

These images show all Portman's Pointe Work

All Portman's pointe work in this scene Click!


Last lift in the combination


11 Nina’s Late/Stage Rehearsal

Time Index: 1:11:10-1:13:53

  • Double: Yes
  • Portman: Yes
  • Pointe Work: No
  • CGI: No

What I saw:

  • 1:11:16-1:11:47 Natalie walks onto stage to find Mila dancing the Black Swan Pas. She protest to the director. During this part, I count all the time you see other dancers as dance time (I am calculating the total time in the moving spent watching ballet).
  • 1:11:47-1127 Portman starts warming-up, for which she is given upper or full body credit for dancing–yes even when you just see her head and nothing else.  Other dancers seen during this period are given credit under others.
  • 1:12:28-11:13:20 Probably some of the funniest dialog in the movie.  Not included in total time dancing
  • 1:13:21-1:13:33 Nina starts rehearsing, but this is not Portman; it is her body double
  • 1:13:33-1:13:53 Scene picks up on the real Portman, with her upper body only being filmed.  She switches glances around (time not includes)

Funny note….Lilly (body double) was doing full out pointe work….when she runs over to Nina she is in ballet slippers–what happened to the point shoes. I will be blogging on what revelation I had after seeing that little trick.

Break Down:

  • Portman 0:27 | 0: 22 Upper Body | 0:05 Full Body | 0:00 Pointe
  • Lane 0:12
  • Others 0:40

Scene Summary: Of the 79 seconds of dance time, Natalie Portman was seen in this scene 34% of the time.  Of this percentage she was filmed 81% of the time with the upper body only showing. Full body accounts for 19% and there was no pointe work performed by Portman in this scene. Lane/Double was filmed 15% and other dancers accounted for 51% of the dancing you saw here.

Portman 34% (81% U, 19% F, 0% P | Lane/Double 15% | Others 51%

15% Full Body Credit for this?

15% Full Body Credit for this?

Dance Double picks up the real dancing

Dance Double picks up the real dancing

Dance double shots stop about here

Dance double shots stop about here

Portman picks up dance credit for arms only

Portman picks up dance credit for arms only

Kunis appears in the film ONCE _wearing_ pointe shoes

Kunis appears in the film ONCE _wearing_ pointe shoes

12 Ballet Ending Stage Rehearsal

Time Index: 1:14:57-1:16:27

  • Double: Yes
  • Portman: Yes
  • Point work: Yes/No.  One image shows her wearing ballet slippers; however, when Portman runs up the ramp she is wearing pointe shoes.

What I saw:

  • 1:14:57-15:04 Wide shot showing the whole company.  This has a double
  • 1:15:05-1:15:32 Focuses on Nina’s upper body
  • 1:15:33-1:15:33 Focuses on ballet director
  • 1:15:34-1:15:51 Focuses on Nina doing some lifts here, but hey looky there no pointe shoes
  • 1:15:52-1:15:54 Focus on Director
  • 1:15:54-1:16:05 Looky Nina is wearing pointe shoes as she runs up the stairs. Really, I have to give her credit for pointe work because I saw her run up the stairs in pointe shoes and stand in B+? Crimny!  She does not do any pointe work here!

Break Down:

  • Portman: 0:55 | 0:53 Upper Body | 0:02 Full Body (running) | 0:11 Pointe (though no pointe work)
  • Double: 0:04

Scene summary: of the 59 seconds of dancing time (does not include time spent on the director’s face), Portman was in 93%, 96% was filmed of the upper body only and 4% of the full body.  Portman gets credit for pointe work by running up a ramp in pointe shoes and standing in B+ a whooping 20%. Though, she didn’t do any of the other scene in them. Her double performed the scene’s first section at 7%.

Portman 93% (96% U, 4% F, 20% P) | Lane/Double 7%

Double appears in this shot

Double appears in this rather short shot


Portman picks up the scene here

Portman picks up the scene here

That is not a pointe shoe!

Portman is not wearing pointe shoes!

Portman now runs up the ramp in pointe shoes

Portman now runs up the ramp in pointe shoes

13 From the Vision

Time Index: 18:46-19:47

  • Double: Yes
  • Portman: Yes
  • Pointe Work: Yes
  • CGI:  there is some computer manipulation here because the dancer does not match the dancer in the mirror. See images below.

What I saw:

  • 1:18:50-1:1905 Starts dancing with Natalie’s upper body being film; when it pans out to a full length body shot what you see is a double. The double does not match the dancer in the mirror, but I cannot confirm the dancer in the mirror is Portman. What I think is happening.  The dancer behind the piano in the mirror is Portman; the dancer in the other mirror is both Portman and her double.
  • 1:19:06-1:19:27 No dancing conversation with pianist
  • 1:19:29-1:19:32 same thing as in the first–double weird things in the mirror
  • 1:19:33-1:19:47 In this shot it picks up on Portman’s torso, but we get to see her in the mirror doing her bourees.

I had a really hard time deciding on “credit” in this scene.  Mainly because of the mirror play.  I gave credit were I felt someone’s attention was going to be focused: so for the two or so seconds you see the double; it is likely that someone would be looking at that.

Break Down:

  • Portman 0:26 | 0:16 Upper Body | 0:10 Full Body | 0:26 Pointe
  • Double 0:05

Scene Summary:  of the 31 seconds of dance time, Portman danced 84% (were we would focused).  Of that time she was film 61.5% were of the upper body and 38.5% of the full body.  She danced 100% of this scene on pointe, and her double did 16%

Portman 84% (61.5% U, 38.5 F, 100% P) | Lane/Double 16%

Double with some funky mirror action

Double with some funky mirror action

Double in center focus

Funky leg and arm mirror stuff

Portman doing more bourees

Portman doing more bourees

14 Performance/White Swan

Time Index: 1:28:55-1:32:46

  • Double: Yes
  • Portman: Yes
  • Pointe Work: No
  • CGI: No

What I saw:

  • 1:29:15-1:29:224 Nina runs on stage
  • 1:29:25-1:29:29 Double does the leap/long shot
  • 1:29:30-1:29:43 Double’s feet
  • 1:29:49-1:1:30:06 Portman upper body only
  • 1:30:06-1:30:11 Double/ long shot
  • 1:30:12-1:31:24 Scene alternates between Portman’s upper body, other corps de ballet, and people off stage
  • 1:31:25-1:32:46 Around the time Nina is dropped.  The double is the person being dropped; you can tell by the fingernails–though you also could assume they wouldn’t let Portman take that fall and gt hurt.  Again you will see a double when the White Swan begins bourees off stage.  We return to Nina’s face–devastated.

Note: a near costume malfunction starts appearing in the scene.  When I watched the movie in the theatre I was quite distracted by it:  Nina’s boob almost comes out of her costume.  This tends to be a problem the last time the White Swan performs.  See images below.

Break Down:

  • Portman 1:54 | 1:54 Upper Body | 0 Full Body | 0 Pointe
  • Double 0:26
  • Other Dancers 0:13

Scene Summary: of the 153 seconds of dancing, Portman was in 74.5% of the dancing.  100% was filmed of the upper body and there was 0% pointe work.  Doubles account for 17% of the dance and the corp de ballet 8.5%.

Portman 74.5% (100% U, 0% F, 0% P) | Double/Lane 17% | Others 8.5%

Portman enters the stage

Portman enters the stage Upper Body

Double does the leap & long shots

Double does the leap & long shots

Upper Body done by Portman

Acting the White Swan is impression IMO

Double does foot work

Double's does foot work close up

Lovely expression & arms

Portman's lovely expression & arms

Double picks up long shot

Double picks up long shot/full body

Hated this: boob falling out of costume

Hated this: boob falling out of costume

All this film on shoots Portman waist up

All this film on shoots Portman waist up

Bad costume releasing boob---

Bad costume releasing boob---more...

Portman entering stage again

Portman entering stage again--Mila on stage

This is why we did not see much of Kunis

This is why we did not see much of Kunis




A double is seen both in this far shot and a closer one

A double is seen both in this far shot and a closer one

This was also calculated as dance time-her head

This was also calculated as dance time-her head

No surprise, a double takes the fall

No surprise, a double takes the fall

A double? Far away shot, though hard to tell

A double? Far away shot, though hard to tell

These are also counted as dancing

These are also counted as dancing

15 Performance/Black Swan

Time Index: 1:34:28-1:37:24

  • Double: Yes
  • Portman: Yes
  • Pointe Work: No
  • CGI: Yes

What I saw:

  • 1:34:28-1:34:42 Curtains open revealing Portman is not wearing pointe shoes
  • 1:34:43-1:34:45 Double does the fifth en pointe
  • 1:34:36-1:36:00 Shows Portman dancing from the upper body.  I do not count the time back stage preening around as dance time; it is really acting time…
  • 1:36:01-1:36:02 Portman walks on stage to prep for coda.  This is counted as dance time
  • 1:36:03-1:36:35 Double performs coda
  • 1:36:37-1:37:06 Bowing, running over to Director and kissing.  The kissing here I counted as dance time
  • 1:37:07-1:37:10 Bourees en pointe, gave it to the double
  • 1:37:10-1:37:19 More kissing then walking on stage to take a bow.  All this was counted as dance time

Break Down:

  • Portman 1:23 | 1:18 Upper Body only | 0:05 Full Body | 0 Pointe Work
  • Lane/Double 0:39

Scene summary of the 1:08 of dance time, Portman was seen in 68% of the scene.  Of that 94% of the scene was filmed of the upper body and 6% full body (basically when she runs on).  The double performed 32% of the scene.

Portman 68% (94% U, 6% F, 0% P) | Lane/Double 32%

Portman is wearing no pointe shoes

Portman is wearing no pointe shoes

Portman running in her ballet slippers

Portman running in her ballet slippers

Some cool upper body filming

Some cool upper body filming

Double when we take the long shot

Double when we take the long shot

Coming back to Portman's Upper Body

Coming back to Portman's Upper Body

Preening Backstage no dance time

Preening Backstage no dance time

Portman prepares for turns

Natalie Portman prepares for turns

Sarah Lane does them

Sarah Lane does pique and foutee turns

Lane in CGI feathers

Sarah Lane decked out in CGI feathers

I handed this out to a double

Still a double

Portman takes a bow

Portman takes a bow

Double's feet doing bourees

Double's feet doing bourees

16 Performance/White Swan

Time Index:

  • Double: Yes
  • Portman; Yes
  • Pointe Work: Yes
  • CGI: No

What I saw:

  • 1:40:26-40:30 Portman and upper body
  • 1:40:31-1:40:33 Double’s Feet
  • 1:40:34-1:40:58 Portman upper body
  • 1:40:59-1:41:01 Shot of whole group with double
  • 1:41:02-1:44:00 Portman upper body, lift shows ballet slippers, running shows ballet slippers.  But then she is wearing pointe shoes at the end of the movie doing bourees.

Break Down:

  • Portman:  0:62 | 0:54 Upper Body | 0:08 Full Body | 0 Pointe Work
  • Double 0:06

Scene Summary: of the 1:08 of dancing, Portman was in 72% of the dancing.  Of that, 89% was the upper body and 11% was full body.  She was en pointe 16% of the time . Doubles account for 8.8% of the scene

Portman 72% (89 U, 11% F, 16% P) | Double 9%

Portman's upper body in the last scene's start

Portman's upper body in the last scene's start

Interesting Pointe Work by the Double

Interesting Pointe Work by the Double

Portman in a lift: about as much as you will see

Portman in a lift: about as much as you will see

Except here ... no pointe shoes

Except here ... click to see no pointe shoes

Totally unrealitic costume- her boobs are falling out

Totally unrealitic costume- her boobs!

Portman back to emoting the white swan

Portman back to emoting the white swan

Long shot has a body double I think

Long shot has a body double I think

Running up the ramp sans pointe shoes

Running up the ramp sans pointe shoes

Magic! Pointe shoes now appear

Magic! Pointe shoes now appear

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5 Responses to “Black Swan | Natalie Portman vs Sarah Lane | Who Did What? | A Scene by Scene Review”

  1. CecilofRil says:

    Although I appreciate you putting to rest who was dancing when (and it shouldn’t matter anyway), the Oscar wasn’t “Best Actress in a Dance Movie.” The Oscar was for “Best Actress.” She won because of her performance as the lead actress in a movie about a dancer that descends slowly into paranoia and madness while she is trying to dance “perfectly.” That is why she won. Hell, look at Audrey Hepburn. She got nominated for “My Fair Lady” and she didn’t even have her VOICE in the songs! (the producers used a voice double at the last minute because they felt that Audrey’s voice was weak on film) But, Actors and Actresses get Oscar nods for OVERALL performances, not just “who’s legs/feet/body is this?” I agree that she should have given a shout out to ALL members of the crew, but you have to remember, ever since *(i can’t think of who did it offhand)’s* speech that ran for like 10 minutes, they limited the speeches to 2 minutes. Not a lot of time to thank EVERYONE. I’m fairly certain (And no, I haven’t watch it so I don’t know unequivocally) that she thanked the ENTIRE crew of the movie (putting everyone under one umbrella). Just because she didn’t mention her TWO (yes, two, because Lane wasn’t there the whole time filming) dance doubles doesn’t mean she isn’t grateful for their help on the movie. All in all, I think that the blogger who posted up nasty comments about Natalie is to blame, because I think that many people would have watched this movie with total enjoyment (before the Oscars and in the theaters) knowing that it was just entertainment and not some “hooplah” designed to smear a fine actress. Besides, you watch the movie more for the story (or at least, you should watch it for that reason) and let the dancing be like the special effects: a tool to help tell the story.

  2. ent0r says:

    Natalie Portman 73% (69% U, 12% F, 38% P) | Sarah Lane 30%
    Your numbers are weird since they would add up to 103%

    Just so you know it, NP didn’t keep the fact that a dance double was used secret.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Swan_dance_double_controversy
    She even mentioned Sara lane on Letterman (not by name though but there weren’t many other ATB dancers on the set)

    Keep up the good work. Always nice to see a more educated take (on ballet) on a situation.

  3. ent0r says:

    Concerning your 4th point:
    It’s Aranofsky who says it, and If may suggest that you shouldn’t believe that “most people remember” “that beautiful footwork”.

    It’s a movie. I would rather say that most of us pay attention to the face of the actor not the feet. Yes, even while dancing.

    Most of us don’t dance. and only a few grasp ballet enough to be actually able to scrutinise Natalies performance.

    • ent0r: Thank you for the correction, I will make sure to update that. I agree with you, most people do focus on the face; it is our biological nature. I do remember seeing a post to another blog about the subject were the individual used the quote I included to suggest that Portman did the entire Prologue, not just the bourees at the end of what I am defining a “scene.”

      I personally found the zoomed in pointe work memorable because as the dancer sits down out of that, you see Portman’s face for the first time, and she truly looks beautiful–not simply because I have studied ballet in the past.

      Good point you have made to remember: not everyone is going to remember something “the most” all the same. It is entirely based on experience and what we find most appealing.

      Thanks!

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