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January 21, 2018

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Well, with the production of yet another "ballet" film, I think we all knew this was coming, but this phony Hollywood "magic" is still disheartening to see. That industry long ago turned self-promotion, pomposity, and false facades into an art form. At least Olive Oyl got herself a proper credit on the film as the star's dance double, albeit as a "stunt" performer. Which seems perfectly correct to me, because from what I can see, her performances these days are little more than stunts, devolving every day into something that is definitely not ballet. Even the Paris Opera Ballet has become complicit in her false mythology. Bah, humbug.

All true, LLF.

If the stunt double had to simply stand on pointe with arms out for a photo because Jennifer Schmennifer couldn't do it credibly enough, what on earth was Jennifer actually able to do in the way of dance for this film? She can't stand still, but she can dance like a ballerina??

Question: If Isabella spoke out on this would she also end up tarred and feathered like poor Sarah? I ask because I have the impression Isabella has been in ABT's good graces for years. Would the company really turn on her the way it did on Sarah?

I don't think so, Rosa. It would be interesting to know if she signed a non-disclosure agreement that prohibits her from speaking to anyone about her role in the film.

Do you suppose that the voting Members of the Academy will be bamboozled again?

Man, I hope not! I just don't get it. What is so terrible about giving credit where credit is due??

Rosa, the short answer is that the actress is less likely to win an Academy Award if she didn't do her own work. So, she and the film's stakeholders have to engage in an Oscar-worthy effort to publicize that she did it all -- even when she didn't.

So unexplainable. Margot Robbie is likely to garner an Oscar nomination on Tuesday, and the director openly talks about using multiple skating doubles despite Margot’s (I’m sure incredibly demanding) five months of training. These arts take a lifetime and it’s senseless to me why we need to collectively fool ourselves into believing an actress can overcome 20 years of study in a matter of weeks.

Give the dance doubles the very little acknowledgement they are asking for!

There was a short article in Pointe Magazine last January about Boylston and Polunin filming Red Sparrow in Budapest. It specifically mentioned that Boylston was rehearsing as a dance double for Lawrence. I can’t believe somebody would try to pull this hoax of Lawerence having mastered ballet in just four months when there already is some publicity about Boylston’s involvement in the movie.

http://www.pointemagazine.com/jennifer-lawrence-red-sparrow-dance-double-star-ballerina-2412945297.html

Why Boylston would sign up for this kind of treatment is beyond me. Obviously she learned nothing from Lane’s battle. Did she need money that badly?

It's also an odd time, politically in the United States, to be downplaying the work of any woman. If I see Jennifer Lawrence in a Time's Up pin mouthing off about the treatment of women in Hollywood while maintaining the falsehood that she could take up principal roles at the Bolshoi with five months of training, I'm calling BS.

Maybe Lawrence and Portman are the kind the people who thought Lina Lamont was unfairly maligned in “Singin’ in the Rain”.

I just want to take a moment to defend Jennifer Lawrence -- as far as I'm aware, she's made no statement that she was able to transform herself into a ballerina. It's the dance coach and director making claims.

I don't really follow Hollywood stars that closely, but whenever I've heard Jennifer Lawrence speak, she's been incredibly candid, as well as unconcerned with conveying a starlet persona. If people ask her about the dance sequences when she's promoting this film, I wouldn't be surprised if she mentions the dance double (unless the producers don't allow her to).

The only part of the dance coach's statement I believe is that Lawrence "followed the footprint onstage for lighting purposes." I can see why they'd want her to complete an entire sequence -- to the best of her ability, obviously not on pointe -- to help with the editing process. Like Black Swan, they'll just use her upper body for the most part.

But yeah, overall, I'm really disappointed that this article, and especially its headline, perpetuates the myth that you can mint a ballerina within a few months' time.

I also found this article: http://www.dancespirit.com/jennifer-lawrence-dance-double-red-sparrow-2326890612.html which Isabella links to from her personal website (http://www.isabellaboylston.com/) in the 'news section'. The article also has a screen shot from Isabella's instagram account. So it can't be a secret, exactly? She seems to have been allowed to publicize her involvement on her own social media.

However, proof that she was filmed, as we know, does not equal admittance of who exactly ends up in the final cut of the movie.

Side note, I didn't realize Justin Peck was doing the choreography.

I’d love a chance to explain to defend the hard work involved with this. I said she had to learn 100 percent of the material and follow the footprint onstage. Thanks for support!
Kurt

Sarah was also initially allowed to talk about her involvement in Black Swan, but once she gave an interview, she was contacted and asked not to talk to the press until after the Oscars.

If Boylston is free to talk about her work in the film good. But I wish she’d exercise some discretion with her instagram. Those pictures with Polunin are not very good and look rather awkward and sloppy.

Hi, Kurt.

We welcome the opportunity to print anything that will help readers understand that this situation is not going to be a Natalie Redux. However, it would be best if the clarification came as your words. Feel free to send another comment through the blog, or if it’s quite lengthy, just email it and we’ll publish it as an actual blog post.

To clarify our Jan 21 post, we don’t doubt for a moment that Jennifer and Natalie put in an extraordinary amount of work for their respective projects. We just doubt the perception that is being promoted about who actually did the dancing. We know they worked very hard and were dedicated to achieving the highest possible authenticity, but, of course, that isn’t the point.

By the way, readers are interested in the red tutu that Isabella wears in the trailer. It's quite stunning. Perhaps you would be willing to reveal the designer's name.

H.

I haven't seen one frame of the movie so I have no idea what the ballet looks like other that hearing that it is stunning. We should be happy about this. RS isn't a dance movie in any way, shape or form. We are lucky that Justin Peck's gorgeous choreography is going to be seen by millions of people that have never stepped for inside a theatre. That's a wonderful thing, right? The fact that the film secured a dancer of the caliber of Isabela is huge! She is going to be preserved on film forever. That's worth celebrating! In the interview, I discussed that with beginner level actors, we can only really focus on the upper bodies. It's important for continuity that the rise and fall and rhythm of their bodies match the double whose footprint they follow. They have to know all of the material for them to be captured well for any kind of vfx. There was six minutes of choreography Jen had to know. That's a mountain of material, especially given the speed of light solo. She was able to do six minutes of choreography, traveling the stage, being lifted in the air, turning around, and understanding the nuance of porte bras. What is not worth cheering for? I didn't say the movie shows only 100% of Jen. I said she did 100 % of the material that was choreographed. Can't we all support the fact that these dancers are now able to do union films for the rest of their lifes? The fact great and exciting dancing is going to be featured in a huge movie, the fact that the lucky few that participated earned a good wage for hard work. Hope you see your way to enjoying the release of this and the fact GREAT BALLET DANCERS were involved in every aspect of this

Thanks much, Kurt. We'll just have to wait until we can see the dancing that turns up in the movie. However, when you confirm that there were six minutes of choreography that Jennifer Lawrence had to know and do, the implication is that she did the steps that will turn up in the film.

The content and especially the quotes in the Broadway.com article – for a mostly non-dance theater-savvy audience that includes academy voters – really do lead (or possibly mislead) the readers to conclude that Jennifer did all of her own dancing. If it is, as you say, only six minutes in the entire film, maybe the issue of who danced what won't be as important as it was in Black Swan.

I think actual balletgoers and the dance world were disgusted by Black Swan because a LOT of Natalie's Oscar momentum for that film was hinged on how she "transformed herself into a ballerina" by losing some weight and taking a few ballet classes. Kurt, you of all people who has been a member of NYCB and put the REAL hard work into becoming a dancer should have been offended as well. Now, if Natalie had said "Well, I took some classes, but the real credit for the dancing goes to Sarah Lane. As for the acting, that was all me" that would have been a totally different story. But she didn't make a peep of thanks or even acknowledgement.

Therein lies the confusion over why Isabella would then want to put her dancing to film but essentially let it be credited as Jennifer Lawrence's dancing. I know that if I worked my a** off to be a professional ballet dancer, nobody would be taking credit for my work but me.

Julie,

Kurt said that he hadn't seen the film yet. So he doesn't know and we certainly don't know what dancing was done by whom. Is it going to be another situation where the film maker puts the actress's face over top the dancer's face and then claims the actress danced the steps? Let's hope not.

If there are only a few minutes of dancing in the film, it probably would have been better not to even bring up the subject since it immediately smacked of Black Swan. But now the subject has indeed been brought up and made important by the inaccurate perceptions that are being promoted.

At the very least Isabella's film credit is listed as "dance double" rather than "Lady in the Lane", as Sarah Lane's continues to be. That is a big, unclassy no-no for me. Like Marni Nixon - the known but not-officially-credited voice behind so many great musicals.

The end credits do mention Sarah under "Stunts", at the very end. No "dance double" mention whatsoever though, and no mention that she was Natalie's primary dance double. Stunt credit can be anything from tripping on a carpet (yes, some actors won't even trip on purpose, and I mean young fit actors) to jumping off a cliff or jumping out of a moving vehicle. The reason you see her as "Lady in the lane" first is because she did in fact play the lady in the lane. She had no lines, but basically it's the scene where Nina is walking late at night and start hallucinating that the person walking towards her is herself (oh, the irony). You can see part of Sarah's face for 2 seconds when Nina realizes it's someone else and not herself she's staring at. Yes, they credit standing (or walking) roles before stunt roles because those minor roles don't need to be "hidden."

I get the feeling but....

...what is the difference between this and Melissa Hayden doubling for Claire Bloom in Limelight?

Hollywood distorts, so what else is new? I refused to see The Hours because of the disgusting fake schnozz the supposedly professional makeup artists of the film industry stuck on Nicole Kidman's insipid face:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/15/movies/the-nose-was-the-final-straw.html

Virginia Woolf was a lovely woman. But she's a writer, and in Hollywood writer = ugly. OK. I've given up expecting anything better from the film industry, at least, in the English-speaking world. They are a bunch of hacks who go for the cheap signal.

My real problem with both Portman and Lawrence is that neither look like any dancer I've ever seen, much less prima ballerinas. Remember how they touted Portman's 20 pound weight loss? To me, she just looked like a bag of dried chicken bones. The top ballerinas of today have superb muscle tone. Lawrence is simply too heavy and also has undeveloped muscles.

Down with Hollywood. The only thing they are good for nowadays is superhero movies. Tells you something.

Speaking of Hollywood sacrileges against dance, I just heard that Spielberg is going to re-make West Side Story (why?), and yes, they are going to do completely new choreography. How will the dance world take this? Isn't Robbins' choreography for WSS considered an integral part of the show? Why is the original choreography considered less of an essential element than the score?

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/01/25/is-west-side-story-steven-spielbergs-dream-project/

Oh, Diana, I just have this bad feeling that we're going to hear "choreography by Justin Peck based on the original choreography by Jerome Robbins". If film makers aren't going to alter the setting or the score, why can't they promise not to alter the choreography?

On the other hand, I see this project as full of opportunities for dancers who have gravitated into theater and would like to try cinema: Pazcoguin, Pollack, Ramasar, Gomes, De Luz.

1. Exactly. Robbins' choreography should be as sacrosanct as Bernstein's score.

2. I doubt Spielberg will hire such excellent pros as the ones you mentioned.

I don't see the need for this. JMO.

Is the JLaw character supposed to be a lousy dancer?

@dc— ?

https://www.thedailybeast.com/its-hard-work-being-jennifer-lawrences-body-double-especially-for-jennifer-lawrence

Yeah, so all the ballet trolls that have had no problem sending hate, venom, and judgement... no one has the decency to say they are sorry? That the jumped the gun?? Not one of you?Typical
And there have been dozens of articles before this

Thanks for the link, Kurt.

This matter wasn’t and isn’t being driven by haters. It’s being driven by continuing outrage at the entertainment industry’s well-documented lack of respect/knowledge/respect-again for what it takes to become an elite level ballet dancer. The initial article in Playbill, which to my knowledge has appended no corrections from you or anyone else, clearly communicated that Red Sparrow was going to be another case of Hollywood screwing the dance professional by misrepresenting that the actress could accomplish in a few months what in reality it takes a lifetime to do. This article appeared in a publication marketed to the theater & entertainment community including many if not most voters in the academy.

We’re glad to see this sudden flood of honest “transparency” after the Playbill article. It’s doubtful, though, that Pia’s article reached the same audience.

So NY Times, Vogue, E! , Entertainment Weekly, NY Post, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, US Weekly, Access Hollywood, Hollywood Life, and In Touch don’t have the same fat reaching audience to include Academy voters. You are absolutely brilliant in your handle of the dance world and film business.
Never mind my follow up regarding the context of my initial statement— that Jen remembered an entire six minutes of Justin’s choreography, with the rhythm and nuance of what we needed to achieve. Never mind all that. Just your informed knowledge of what was truly at play. I hope you find comfort in your huge impact in the world of ballet and the arts. You’re contributing so much! I love when you called me a hypocrite and backstabber to my colleagues. That was really cool and informed and in no way requires any type of apology

Thanks, Kurt.

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