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Benjamin Millepied on 'Black Swan,' Natalie Portman and his dancing future

March 23, 2011 | 10:15 am

NatalieBenjamin On the eve of the DVD release of “Black Swan,” dancer/choreographer Benjamin Millepied has a slew of new creative irons in the fire, including the rather frenzied public anticipation of his first child with fiancée Natalie Portman, his pas de deux partner in the heralded film.

Anticipating the chance to watch the film for the first time on DVD, Millepied cites his favorite choreographic moment in the film as “Natalie.” Against claims that the Oscar winner's body double carried much of the dancing, Millepied defends her passionately. “Honestly, 85% of that movie is Natalie,” he says.

A longtime resident of New York City, the French-born Millepied, 33, is still foremost a dancer/choreographer, though he’s done some modeling (for Club Monaco’s fall campaign) and just directed his first commercial (which he chooses not to name yet).

Currently at work on a commission for the Pennsylvania Ballet (the company featured in "Black Swan"), Millepied looks to be solving his competing passions (filmwork and dance) by installing live video cameras onstage to augment the audience experience.

“I think directing and choreographing have such a similarity,” he says. “How to work with movement and motion and narration and emotion and creating images.”

Click here to read more about Millepied on "Black Swan," Portman and his future in dance.


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Photo: Benjamin Millepied and Natalie Portman on the red carpet at the Oscars. Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

Comments () | Archives (12)

Give me a break,Natalie don't do the 85% of the dance,all the best dance was made by a pro-ballerina,and CGI was used to add Natalie face.Just check the movie and you can see it.

Natalie Portman received the Academy Award for best actress not best dancing this is a non issue. Her peers have spoken. It's done.

Millepied's style is a breath of fresh air to dance as he blends modern with classic. I have seen his work before Black Swan became the rage and I like it.
Art is an acquired taste in my opinion and not being a dancer I truly love this art form. I could easily see him presenting his works on "Broadway" some time in the future.

Yes the retirement comments make sense athletes don't have long careers thier bodies just can't take the constant pounding year in and year out.

Natalie's "Best Actress" was based HEAVILY on her supposed "transformation" into a dancer. So much publicity and emphasis was put on how hard she had worked to perform these complicated sequences. So why do you think the studio told her dance double Sarah Lane NOT to give interviews regarding how much ballet she'd dubbed until AFTER award season?

In defense of the body double, some of the full body shots were spectacular! I loved the turn sequence where she turned into a swan. it was clearly not natalie, but it's a movie and shouldn't be taken as real.

What gets me is WHY DID THEY HIDE IT? The movie didn't credit Sarah Lane as a Body double and the producers told Sarah not to give interviews until after the oscars (she said so in a recent interview) what's up with that???

I think the "she won an Oscar for acting, not dancing" excuse is kind of lame. I don't particularly like Natalie Portman's work as an actress, but I was very impressed by her performance in _Black Swan._ I think she was perfectly cast and did great work -- and I have no problems with her Oscar win, despite being a HUGE fan of Annette Benning's work in _The Kids Are All Right._ I similarly didn't think she did all of her own dancing when I saw the movie, nor do I think less of her based on someone actually admitting it. And I think that's what bothers me about this.

If the producers really thought that it was her *acting* that mattered in the lead-up to the Oscars, why did they feel the need to silence Sarah Lane (who I didn't find bitter in the original Dance article and kind of feel bad is getting such negative reactions for what seems like an honest and resigned interview about filmmaking)? As others have noted, so much of the awards campaign went into having you believe that Portman transformed herself into a ballerina in 18 months. I'm sure that she actually danced a good portion of the sequences -- at least up to her abilities -- but was aided with editing, visual effects, and a superb body double for the final cut. Again, it takes nothing away from her or her training (at the very least it gave her insight into the grueling work these dancers do, which in and of itself is important to understanding Nina Sayers) to say that someone else did the dancing you see on film ... actually it shows tremendous dedication because she wasn't content to let someone else do the work for her. So why lie? Why hide? Either you don't have faith in your audience or your actor. Frankly, I don't know which is worse.

What I think is most interesting, though, is that the Dance interview was in December. Why is this only news now?

What else is this social climber going to say?

Does anyone care what percentage of dancing Portman did? Or were they too busy salivating over the girl on girl action to realize there was actual dancing in the film?


Portman lied. Period. She exaggerated her talent and contribution to the biggest parts of the movie - the dance scenes. Moreover, her Oscar campaign was built on her assertions that she performed her own dance moves after months of back breaking training and dedication.

She's a fraud and that does not bother most people but I don't like being lied to myself.

Portman's and her fiancee are simply self serving liars.

Whatever. Even if she didn't dance at all, she's being nominated for an ACTING award. You haters are morons.

Would the director have happily donated all of his director credits to Natalie and kept his mouth shut when he received no recognition for his contribution ? Would the producer, the script writer and maybe even the choreographer himself melted into the background in order to donate recognition for their talents and hard work to Natalie in order that she could claim the accolades for her stupendous talents as an all round everything ?
Surely it is not too much to ask that anyone who contributes to a movie receive recognition for their contribution to making it a success.When a movie ends it is always followed by a long, long list of credits in order to ensure that everyone involved gets the recognition they deserve for their professional participation.I'm sure it is usually accurate, I hope it is.Now for some very bizarre reason it is OK to dump on a very talented dancer and deceitfully deprive her of the recognition she also deserves.This is all about fairness and respect for each others particular talents and professional abilities and the only people that don't seem to care about such details are most likely the ones that walk out of a cinema long before the credits stop playing whether they enjoyed the movie or not.An actress or an actor in a movie are not the only ones that make a movie a success and it is an insult to the others to think otherwise.This stand in dancer has been insulted and I don't blame her a bit for her indignation.

For one of the best films of all time cross-examining the art or choreography and cinematography and film see the 1998 film by Carlos Saura called "TANGO". Shot by the legendary Vittorio Storaro, featuring incredible performances and dancing.

Her acting in the movie was terrible. Her "dancing" was even worse.


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