Watch a pre-teen Natalie Portman dance at summer camp -- VIDEO

First, Natalie Portman’s Black Swan body double Sarah Lane told EW that she, and not the Oscar-winning Portman, had performed 95 percent of the full-body dance shots in the ballet thriller. Then, Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky and co-star Mila Kunis denied Lane’s claims. Finally, Portman danced around the controversy in her one and only comment on the topic to E!, saying “I’m really proud of everyone’s work on the movie and of my experience.” And now comes video that has no bearing on the controversy whatsoever (though many will likely try to spin it into an argument defending or criticizing Portman): Footage of the actress dancing at the Stage Door Manor Performing Arts Summer Camp in New York’s Catskill Mountains as a pre-teen. (You can see Portman starting at the 2:30 mark.) Though it certainly does not prove Portman’s dance skills during the filming of Black Swan — this was, after all, shot more than a decade earlier — the fun footage does at least show that Portman did had a passion for the art. Watch the video after the jump.

Read more:
Natalie Portman on ‘Black Swan’ controversy: ‘I know what went on.’
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Mila Kunis blasts ‘Black Swan’ controversy: ‘Natalie danced her a–– off.’ — EXCLUSIVE
‘Black Swan’ director Darren Aronofsky defends Natalie Portman in body-double controversy

‘Black Swan’ double claims Natalie Portman only did ’5 percent’ of full-body dance shots in the movie

Comments (74 total) Add your comment
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  • Mac

    I can’t tell which one is Natalie…

    • Mac

      Oops… nevermind…

    • Tom

      What the hell is this propaganda for? Sarah wins.

      • alex

        Wins what, the contest to see who looks more desperate?

      • Bart

        using baby pictures to make your case isn’t desperate alex?

      • Rachel

        It screams desperation!

      • maggie

        This video is too funny!

  • Jerv

    Aw. Was this at the school she attended after Leon’s death?

    • Donna

      LOL…yes, this is the school she attended after Leon’s death.

      • Jake

        I wonder if the fern/plant survived….lol

    • Le HIROSHI

      LOL. Good one, Jerv.

      – –

      (I feel bad for those who haven’t watched “the” movie yet; talking about the SPOILER — LEON’s DEATH, lol.)

  • Meg

    That is kind of an awkward video. Anyway, I wouldn’t really use this in defense of Natalie Portman’s dancing abilities/skill–ballet and tap are two different types of dancing. Maybe the end result is the same, but the technical aspects don’t seem to be the same so any comparison is pointless.

    • liza

      Actually, ballet’s considered the foundation of all dance. Even though ballet and tap are probably the two most different styles, tap still requires a certain amount of poise, control, and extension one learns in ballet. If only a video of Natalie doing ballet, which she discussed at length training in when she was younger, would surface…

      • Lois

        Natalie was awkward and out of sync with the other dancers in this video. If she’s that bad at tap, I doubt she was great at ballet.
        BTW, when she said she trained, she meant going to these camps and taking some lessons like a lot of young girls do. She stopped dancing lessons at around 13, which means it wasn’t long after this. This pretty much proves that she wasn’t a “trained” dancer before “Black Swan.”

      • mel

        Are you seriously saying that she didn’t do any of the dances in the movie based on an old video of when she was a little girl? Nonsense.

      • @mel

        The people who keep claiming that Portman did all her own dancing in “Black Swan” point to her “extensive” dancing lessons as a child & how she already was a brilliant dancer. They say her years worth of lessons before the film only re-ignited her “remarkable” dancing skill. Portman gave up her dancing lessons when she started acting full-time at around age 12 or 13. So this video shows Portman after years of dance lessons, at what is supposed to be the height of her brilliance as a young dancer. So yeah, it does support that she didn’t do her own dancing.

    • Kat

      Natalie Portman has a leotard with distinctive straps in the back. The first time it’s obviously her (courtesy of the close-up) is in the tap routine, but she dances in each of the clips – look for her in the black leotard with the straps that come down in a V shape in the back, with straps running around the sides under the arms. In the first section, she’s wearing a dress over it, but you can still tell it’s her. She comes in at 00:38. From my limited experience with ballet, she seems to have very nice arms for the most part. I’m not really sure about her legs/feet. But she seems pretty young and gangly-looking here, so I don’t think the video should be used either to defend or attack her Black Swan dancing. It’s just kind of cute to see.

      • Margo

        That girl in the ballet isn’t Natalie Portman. That video is on youtube and you can make it full screen. You’ll see that Natalie Portman is only in the tap dancing portion. That’s the reason why the story above says that you can see Natalie Portman starting at the 2:30 mark.

      • Kat

        I watched it full screen on the highest resolution, and there are no close-ups in the ballet sections, so I’m not sure how you’re seeing the face clearly enough to state that it’s not Natalie Portman. It looks like her to me. Same hair, same awkward side bangs, same body shape, same leotard. That, combined with the limited number of girls who appear in the clips (several appear in more than one), combined with the fact that these clips were pieced together specifically to show Natalie Portman’s dancing (and thus, why would they bother cutting to clips of other girls dancing rather than Natalie Portman, the supposed subject of the video?)…that strongly indicates to me that she’s that girl in the distinctive leotard in each clip. The fuzzy face details look to me like they could easily be her. It doesn’t really matter to me, because I don’t especially care how much dancing Natalie Portman did in Black Swan (I’m inclined to think the professional dancer knows what she’s talking about, has a less suspect agenda, and I sympathize with her)…but in the interest of an accurate and informed discussion, I think it’s important to point out that she’s NOT just in the tap dance but that she also demonstrates her ballet experience in the video.

      • maggie

        The girl in the ballet isn’t Portman. She has thinner legs and looks taller than Portman.
        How do you know that “these clips were pieced together specifically to show Natalie Portman’s dancing?” For all you know this could be the whole original video, and not specifically edited for Portman.
        “in the interest of an accurate and informed discussion, I think it’s important to point out that” every professional media site that posted this story says Portman first appears at the 2:30 mark, which means she can’t be the girl in the opening ballet.

  • sam

    I don’t think anyone really questions her “passion” for the arts.

  • Chloe

    I thought Sarah Lane claimed she did 85% percent of the ballet work?

    • Tom

      95 percent of the dancing means 95 percent of the credit. Spare us your home movies.

    • Lois

      Sarah Lane said she did 95% of the FULL-BODY dancing shots.
      NOT 95% or 85% of ALL dancing shots.

      • Kris

        Exactly. The bottom line is, Natalie still did most of the dancing. Sarah did the majority of the full-body shots but there were what? 15/20 in the whole movie? No matter what, Natalie has an Oscar, a baby and millions of dollars. Sarah doesn’t even have a career anymore. So, who really wins?

      • @Kris

        Full body shots is what Lane said. But the full body shots were the only shots that showed actual dancing. The rest was suggesting dancing movements, not actual dancing.
        Sarah Lane has a brilliant career with the American Ballet Theater. Natalie Portman has a sleazy, cheating fiance, a baby on the way that will attach her to that loser Millepied forever, and an Oscar that no one will remember in a couple of years if she keeps doing movies like “Your Highness”, “No Strings Attached” and “Thor”.

      • @ @Kris

        “The rest was suggesting dance movements, not actual dancing.”

        Uh…yeah. That’s called ACTING. You can take ANY actor’s performance in ANY movie and refer to it in that manner. Colin Firth won an Oscar by PRETENDING to stutter, just like Portman PRETENDED to dance.

        It’s aaaaaaaall pretend. [stage whisper to the people who don’t get it]: it’s nooooot reeeeeal.

      • @Kris

        Yes, it’s acting. THAT WAS MY POINT. I didn’t think that I had to spell out that Portman pretending to dance was “acting.” I believe that people understand what acting is. But obviously you don’t think people are smart enough and need it spelled out for them.

        My post was in response to what Kris wrote: “Natalie still did most of the dancing” And I responded that she suggested dance movements, not actual dancing.

        Yes, Portman pretended to dance. The only real dancing was done in the full-body shots which were mostly Lane not Portman. So if Lane did 95% of the full-body dancing shots, then she did 95% of the actual dancing. The rest was Portman “acting” like a dancer, not actually dancing.

  • Julie Cooper-Nichol

    Dang, these girls are terrible.

    • Bart

      No kidding.

  • Jackson

    LOL…the only thing this video proves is that she couldn’t dance then or now.

    • sam

      i know right

      • Bart

        Who are they trying to fool here?

  • Cornelia

    OMG… what a bunch of catty nonsense… my mother was a pro ballerina dancer. These are children maybe 11 to 15 at most. Natalie stands out already showing superior poise in both arm and leg extension. When our fore fathers gave us the blessing of free speech I wonder if they realized we would also be cursed by all the BS as well.

    • Margie

      Too true!

    • Jackson

      “Natalie stands out already showing superior poise in both arm and leg extension” Please put the crack pipe down before posting

      • liza

        Cornelia’s right in that comment. Natalie’s been pretty vocal about her training in ballet when she was younger, and as someone who studied ballet and other forms of dance for 13 years under former Bolshoi Ballet ballerinas, that training is evident even in something as different from ballet as tap is.

      • Bart

        It’s too bad she couldn’t have done more than 5 percent of the dancing in that movie. Oh well!

    • whateva

      Then you know that by age 11 to 15 you can tell if someone is going to be a great dancer or not.

      My mom was a psyhic.. so I know thing.

    • FrannieT

      Even more important than whether or not Natalie Portman did most of her own dancing (I’m not sure any rational person thinks this), forefathers is one word, not two.

    • @Cornelia

      You should talk about being cursed by BS. Where in that video did Portman show any arm or leg extension? She was doing rudimentary tap dancing.

      • Katja

        She’s not just tapping. She is in the video starting at 00:38, actually. She’s wearing a black leotard with different straps than the other girls, so you can pick her out in each clip. She dances in each dance shown in the video above, including all the ballet portions.

      • Margo

        No, that’s not Portman. Portman is only in the tap portion. They may have similar costumes, but their faces are different.

  • Warda

    The video is interesting, but it’s neither here nor there. I don’t blame Portman for the controversy, and I think she’s done well to largely stand clear. Now that she’s won her Oscar, and the necessary publicity machine has done its work, I wish Aronofsky would come clean in a transparent way.

    Lane never said that she danced 85% (or more) of Portman’s character’s screen time; only that she did the vast majority (I think she said 95%, but I’m not sure) of the full body shots. To me, this seems to be an important distinction.

    It seems insulting to actual, professional dancers for Aronofsky and company to suggest, that, no matter how dedicated a student Portman was in the year before filming (and I don’t doubt that she was), that she could hope to master the necessary technique to portray a professional. I don’t think if Portman admitted to having depended on a professional body double takes away from her performance, either. No-one’s going to take back her Oscar, no matter who did the dancing, so… why not stop maligning Sarah Lane?

    • Bart

      Maybe because Sarah is the actual talent behind that character in this movie?

      • Rachel

        The dancing was the worst part of the movie.

      • fiona

        Um, no? The dancing is pretty to watch in “Black Swan,” but the “talent behind that character” is watching her crack open, psychologically. And that is ALL Natalie Portman’s performance. I don’t really care about percentages, but the fact is, any trained ballerina of appropriate coloring and build could have done the long body shots. Very few actresses could have delivered the simultaneously touching and unnerving performance of a woman on the edge the way Natalie Portman did.

  • Ap

    Is this supposed to prove that she was okay but not good enough so they *had* to use that other ballerina?

  • cc

    I guess I don’t get the controversy. Don’t they frequently used doubles for things such as figure skating, dancing, singing, etc.? What does it matter if one more movie does it?

    • Mary

      It matters if the vast majority of the movie is centered around dance and won the actress an Academy Award.

      • fiona

        The acting won the Oscar. Not the dancing. Why is this so hard for people to grasp?

    • Lois

      The controversy is that Portman’s fiance, who was the film’s choreographer, gave a number of interviews basically saying that Portman learned in a little over a year how to be as good as the best professional ballerinas.
      This was compounded by not crediting Sarah Lane as the Dance Double, but rather as a Body Double. Body Doubles usually do things like nude shots when a performer doesn’t want to, or closeups of body parts that aren’t attractive on the performer (hands, feet, legs, etc.)
      People who do specific acts that require a skill, in place of the performer, are always credited as performing those skills. This includes stunt doubles, voice or dance doubles, etc. (They didn’t always give credit to these skilled people in the past, but they’ve been giving proper credit for decades now.)
      Sarah Lane was interviewed and asked about her work on the film, and she told them what she did. That brought about the wrath of the filmmaker and Portman’s fiance, who went out of their way to discredit Lane.

      • ABH

        Lane signed a contract knowing full well that she was not being credited as a dance double. Apparently, when she was cashing the check, it wasn’t a problem. Body doubles and stunt doubles do not get credited for the specific work they do on a film, and never have. The credits simply say “stunts,” and then a list of names. Even if Ms. Lane received credit as a dancer in the film, she’d be on a list with other dancers as well. “Ms. Portman’s Dance Double: Sarah Lane” was never going to happen. It wasn’t in her contract, and if she’d pushed for it, they would have just found someone else. Which, apparently, they probably should have. Have you read Lane’s interviews? She is so incredibly condescending and full of herself. Read the Speakeasy interview transcript. The credits for Black Swan could have said, in big bold neon letters, “GOD’S GIFT TO THE WORLD OF DANCING: SARAH LANE” and she STILL wouldn’t have been happy.

      • Margo

        Sarah Lane’s contract did not specify what her credit would be, and has repeatedly said so. No one from the film has challenged that statement. She didn’t know that she would be listed inappropriately as a body double.
        People who perform talents specifically for one of the leads are usually credited as doing it for that actor. So she should have been credited as Portman’s dance double.
        For stunt people, there are usually a number of them who do different stunts for the same actor, so they aren’t listed specifically as the stunt person for that actor. But if there is only one stunt person doing all the stunts for an actor, they can list that person as that actor’s stunt double. If the stunt calls for a special skill beyond a usual stunt, they usually give individual credit.

        I don’t think Lane sounds “incredibly condescending and full of herself” in her interviews. I think she sounds like someone pissed off that an actress with little training is being passed off as being as skilled a dancer as professionals who has devoted their lives to it. It is an insult to Lane and all professional dancers to promote Portman as if she is an actual ballerina. She’s just an actress who played one.

      • ABH

        I think the whole debate is an insult to anyone with half a brain who watches the movie. I don’t even know that much about ballet (except that it’s pretentious and absolutely and irrevocably crushes young womens’ body image) and I still somehow figured out that Natalie Portman did not become a professional ballet dancer after a year or so of training, no matter how intensive (go me.) Most rational people get that, and disregarded Millepied’s cooing over Portman as the prideful exaggeration it was. If you’re that sensitive about how ballet is portrayed, then keep it on the ABT stage where the audience appreciation is up to your standards and expectations. As she stated in the Speakeasy interview, Lane’s contract did specify what her credit would be – it stated that there wouldn’t BE one, except at the prodcuer’s discretion. Rather than investigate how she, a 22 year veteran, prestigiously accomplished, prima ballet dancer would be credited in return for her blood, sweat and tears, she said NOTHING – before or after she signed on. She goes on to say that she just “thought they would kind of take care” of her, evidently because she’s some sort of ballet superhero capable of doing things that are “impossible, even for a professional ballet dancer.” She wasn’t credited “inappropriately.” The moviemakers’ job was to make it look like Natalie Portman could dance, not to handhold and coddle an extra with a chip on her shoulder.
        And for all her “ballet doesn’t get any respect” finger-waggy quotes, and talk of being “insulted” on behalf of the entire oh-so-beleaguered ballet world, one would think she could find better things about her profession, life’s work and passion to be insulted about. Like maybe the fact that pretty much everyone in the movie associated with ballet is bats**t crazy? Like the completely unhinged, unfit for normal life, washed up “too old” prima played by Winona Ryder? Or how about the icky, grabby, inappropriate-bordering-on-criminal sex pervert of an instructor?
        Lane can retire the “I speak for ballet itself” shtick, since it’s obvious the outrage she feels is personal.

  • Sue1

    This proves that some parents realized they had a goldmine at 2:30 of their little girl’s summer camp recital, and that when you’re a ‘celebrity’, nothing is ever past of the past.

    • @Sue1

      Natalie has had an agent and worked as a model and actress since she was 11-years-old. She had her first lead in a major film, “The Professional” AKA “Leon” when she was 12-years-old. They knew she was a “celebrity” when they were filming this.

      • Sue1

        Your point? Mine was that even attending summer camp like a non-celebrity-normal-kid, her privacy was heading for the door.

      • @Sue1

        Yes, that’s exactly what all those parents taping their kids’ dance recitals are doing. Hoping for a GOLDMINE.

    • @Sue 1

      It was a camp for kids that wanted to be in showbiz.

  • Beau

    You people are absolutely disgusting.

    • Bart

      Credit where credit is deserved. What’s disgusting about that?

      • Rachel

        She did give credit! Do your research.

  • Dr. Linus

    The story that will never die…

  • deedeedragons

    Correct Dr. Linus but that been said it does pretty much reek of desperation from Portman.

    • casey

      Why do you think this comes from Natalie Portman? Don’t you think this was probably posted by somebody who went to dance class with her a zillion years ago and saw their big chance to go viral?

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