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Movie review: Keeping ballet alive in a creepy sort of way

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By Kirsten Laskey

When the credits appeared on the movie screen for “Black Swan,” I turned to my sister with my best “shocked and amazed” face. She whispered to me, “I’m glad I never danced in Swan Lake.”
Indeed. This classic ballet takes a complete psychotic turn in the movie. Yet, despite the horrible hallucinations and the terrible paranoia, “Black Swan” is fabulous. And I am not going nuts here.
The gist of the story is Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) gets chosen to be the star of the New York City Ballet’s production, “Swan Lake.” The catch is, while the pure Nina is a shoe-in for the White Swan, mastering the persona of the evil Black Swan is a challenge. So much in fact, that Nina’s sanity gets deeper and deeper in jeopardy.
It may be a warped version of a classic story, but the movie does ballet proud. It shows just how much work, blood, sweat and tears ballet dancers give to their art. I always thought ballet dancers were among the coolest people on Earth. They are so poised and lithe, delicate but strong. Plus, ballerinas always look beautiful.
Portman certainly fits the bill. The poor ballerina never stands a chance against her mental frailties and Portman never smiles in the movie, but the actress is gorgeous as a rising star in the New York City Ballet Company.


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