Inspiration: Sarah Lane

Sarah Lane is one of my favorite dancers today. I had the pleasure of training at the Boston Ballet Summer Dance Program at the same time as Sarah in 2002, where her movement quality, pure line and effortless grace caught everyone’s attention. She had some of the most expansive movement, all placed on a lithe frame of only about 5’2″. Sarah was also as sweet and humble as they come, though she had plenty of bragging rights with a full scholarship to the program and a bronze medal from the Youth America Grand Prix.

Later that year, Sarah won the silver medal at the Jackson International Ballet Competition, the highest female junior medal awarded that year. In August 2003, she was accepted as an American Ballet Theatre apprentice. A promotion to corps de ballet followed in April 2004, and finally a promotion to soloist in 2007.

If you can’t make it to NYC to see Sarah perform, you can see her dancing as the body double for Natalie Portman in Black Swan. But don’t think Sarah was born with golden pointe shoes on – her early training was in a good quality but local-level school in Memphis, and when her training turned serious she sold telescopes at a Discovery Channel store to pay for her competition expenses!

Update: When I realized months back that some of my own students didn’t know that Lane performed the dancing shots for Black Swan, I explained that it was laughable to think that Portman could dance at that level. I didn’t think much of it, however, until reading this article and others about the lack of acknowledgement Lane received for her performance. (Even more forgotten than Lane, Kimberly Prosa assisted with some lighter dance scenes, and Maria Riccetto did the heavy lifting for Mila Kunis.) As a former dancer, I watched Black Swan in order to see Sarah dance. It didn’t really occur to me that no one else was envisioning Lane as they watched – a product of my own dancer tunnel vision. It was obvious to me when they shifted between the two, and I felt that Portman’s awkward beginner posture, paddle hands and sicked feet detracted from the film. Since she could not dance on pointe, however, these shots were few. I hope this unprofessional error will be corrected, but I would like to do my part to publicize Sarah’s superb performance.

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