The ‘Black Swan’ Dance Double Controversy By the Numbers

What’s more interesting than the grueling details of an actor’s process of getting into character? Discovering that that Oscar-winning performance may not have been as difficult as previously thought. Once Sarah Lane, Natalie Portman‘s dance double for Black Swan, brought to light the fact that she wasn’t properly credited for her extensive work in the film, defenders and opponents rose up on both sides to argue her claims. As Dlisted points out, it’s become something of a numbers game.

  • 85%: What Benjamin Millepied (Portman’s choreographer and baby-daddy), as the first defender for Team Natalie, claimed she danced.
  • 5%: The percentage that Lane came back with.
  • 139/111/28: According to director Darren Aronofsky, it’s the total number of shots in the film, how many Portman danced, and how many Lane did.
  • 80-90%: Aronofsky’s estimation of Portman’s real dancing — at least 80% in terms of the shots mentioned above, or as high as 90% when accounting for time.
  • 85: Seconds of the first dance sequence that Portman allegedly danced alone, on pointe.
  • 3: The number of times that Lane’s face was swiped over with Portman’s in a behind-the-scenes VFX video. (I had to estimate because, curiously, Fox has taken the video down, citing copyright issues.)

Mila Kunis was too badass to use numbers; in her statement to EW, she said, “Natalie danced her ass off… [Lane] wasn’t used for everything. It was more like a safety net. If Nat wasn’t able to do something, you’d have a safety net. The same thing that I had — I had a double as a safety net. We all did. No one ever denied it.”

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