Being on 20/20 for Black Swan BlackoutGate

April 14, 2011

If you’re going to be on national TV for three seconds, it might as well be for a good cause. In this case, the cause was the attempt to have a real ballerina be recognized.


When I saw the trailer earlier that day, I realized that 20/20 was not going to use much of my interview. So that was disappointing. But I’m just glad they mentioned that it was my blog that called people’s attention to what I call the blackout on who was really dancing, and I’m glad they showed the June 2007 Dance Magazine with Sarah Lane on the cover.


But my main feeling is, I’m proud of Sarah Lane. Dancers don’t have the trained voices that actors have. But when she said, in her little voice, that the producers were lying, I let out a whoop. She sure wasn’t going to back down! I was proud of her a couple weeks ago too, when Wall Street Journal gave her the space to write about it from her point of view.


On Tuesday, I was a bit nervous for the interview, but I kept telling myself to just be spontaneous and answer how I feel. Elizabeth Vargas made it easy stay focused because her own eye focus was so steady. 


I also wish I had said something about that crazy moment when I realized that the face replacement part of the FX video had disappeared from the internet. That was really a twilight zone moment for me. (Hey, wouldn’t that have been a good sound bite?) But I decided to be spontaneous, which meant I was pretty inarticulate when the time came around.


That said, the one bit of my interview they did use—about how Portman is a film artist but Sarah Lane is a dance artist—was pretty spontaneous. I think that was in response to Elizabeth Vargas asking me why any of this should matter.


But the highpoint of the experience for me was that after my interview, which was at the ABT studios, we went into a small side studio and watched Sarah dance with her husband, Luis Ribagorda. They did a standard Sugar Plum pas de deux that they take on their Nutcracker gigs. Watching her dance with such fluidity and delicacy, I almost felt tears come to my eyes. That happens with me when I see the sheer beauty of a really great dancer. But I quickly kept it in check, because I realized that the cameras—the ones not following Sarah’s dancing—were following Elizabeth and me to get our reaction to her dancing. 


Elizabeth’s last question was, What do you wish the makers of Black Swan had done? Of course I wish Natalie Portman had thanked Sarah Lane when she got the Oscar—although that might have been naïve on my part. More realistically, I wish they had just said, OK, we used a real dancer, and her contribution was invaluable. 


here it is.