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Dancing the difference between white and black swans

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Will Gompertz | 10:42 UK time, Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Darren Aronofsky's soon-to-be-released movie Black Swan has been ruffling some feathers in the dance world. There has been criticism about its lack of authenticity and for being riddled with ballerina-as-a-paranoid-neurotic clichés as Deborah Bull (an ex-principal dancer at the Royal Ballet) and I discussed on Today this morning.

Deborah ends by suggesting you don't take your young daughter to see the film if she wants to learn about ballet (it's cert 15). Well, perhaps she could look at my short film instead, in which the Royal Ballet's wonderful Zenaida Yanowsky shows me how a dancer becomes a good (white) swan and a bad (black) swan with little more than a head gesture and arm movement. She is terrific.

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You can see more of Zenaida Yanowsky at the Royal Opera House later this month where she is dancing the lead in Swan Lake (the role that Portman takes on in the movie).

PS. Frankly I think the ballet world is being too literal; Black Swan is as much about ballet as the King's Speech is about royalty. Yes, the film's story is framed around a ballerina and the ballet Swan Lake, but only as a device for a melodramatic physiological thriller, with a bit of werewolf-like action thrown in for good measure.



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