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Making a Pointe

By: Katherine Baker

In the recent film “Black Swan,” Natalie Portman stars as the ballerina in a production of “Swan Lake.” Portman won the Oscar for best actress for her performance, in which she did most of the dancing.

Recently though, Sarah Lane, Portman’s dance double, made claims that Portman only danced in 5 percent of the shots on screen and that she danced for 95 percent of the dance scenes.

However, Entertainment Weekly published a statement from the film’s director, Darren Aronofsky, defending Portman, which stated that she danced in about 80 percent of the shots, or 90 percent of the movie if you factor in duration.

“There are 139 dance shots in the film. 111 are Natalie Portman untouched. 28 are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math that’s 80 [percent] Natalie Portman,” Aronofsky said.

In public relations, a practitioner represents his company much like a director represents his movie. As PR people, if a problem comes our way, it is crucial to take initiative and be the one that tackles the problem.

Aronofsky assumed the role of a great PR practitioner.

He went directly to the source, Entertainment Weekly, and set the record straight. No if, ands or buts. I don’t think there will be much more questioning about how many scenes Portman danced.

When a reliable source, such as a director or PR professional, cuts to the chase and sets the public straight, it is very powerful and can change the public’s opinion for the better.

Mila Kunis, Portman’s co-star in “Black Swan,” is quoted in another Entertainment Weekly article stating that Portman is honest about how much footwork she was and was not able to do.

“Natalie danced her a–- off,” Kunis said. “I think it’s unfortunate that this is coming out and taking attention away from [the praise] Natalie deserved and got.”

Having other people in your cast, or on your PR team, back you up when a crisis occurs is also a great and effective way to clear up any confusion.

The director and cast members of “Black Swan” know how to take care of business not only in the ballet world, but in the PR world as well.

In his closing remarks, Aronofsky told Entertainment Weekly, “And to be clear Natalie did dance on pointe in pointe shoes. If you look at the final shot of the opening prologue, which lasts 85 seconds, and was danced completely by Natalie, she exits the scene on pointe. That is completely her without any digital magic.

“I am responding to this to put this to rest and to defend my actor. Natalie sweated long and hard to deliver a great physical and emotional performance. And I don’t want anyone to think that’s not her they are watching. It is.”

Way to make a “pointe” of setting the story straight, Aronofsky.


  1. Post comment

    I believe being a PR practitioner in the entertainment business is a demanding and tough job. Most rumors that happen in entertainment are steamed from someone who wants to generate press. It doesn’t matter if it is good or bad press, just as long as its press. As PR practitioners we create positive press about our client. The director, Darren Aronofsky showed what a good PR practitioner should do in a crisis surrounding his actors.

  2. Post comment

    This post provides an example of a situation in which good PR skills produced timely, effective communication with key publics in the wake of image damaging statements. The evidence for the comments given was backed by testimony from credible sources. There is little evidence of bias in the responses by the director and Portman’s co-actress. The reader is given a clear case to dismiss the statements made in criticism of the film. The response to the allegations made is evidence that good PR skills are important in communication with publics.

  3. Post comment

    This blog perfectly describes the role of a public relations practitioner for people that don’t understand why PR exists. Correctly and honestly handling problems are part of the job. There are many misconstrued thoughts about PR practitioners. One of the most common rumors is that they lie to make their company look more appealing to potentials clients. Being a problem solver can be an extremely tough job. Problems are usually not viewed in a positive way, especially not in the media. Darren Aronofsky stood by his movie, stated facts and backed them up with proof. He definitely stepped into the role of a PR practitioner and he did it effectively.


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