Ballet stars attack ‘lies’ of Natalie Portman film

Natalie Portman

Actress tipped for Golden Globe tonight, but Tamara Rojo is not impressed

BY Sophie Taylor LAST UPDATED AT 12:20 ON Sun 16 Jan 2011

US actress Natalie Portman (above) is hotly tipped to win a Golden Globe tonight for her part in ballet movie Black Swan, but she seems to have earned the opprobium of an entire corps de ballet's-worth of dancers in the process.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky, the man who made The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke, the acclaimed new film paints the ballet world as full of sexual predators, bulimics and obsessives.

Now the Royal Ballet's Tamara Rojo, thought by many to be the best dancer working in the UK, has revealed she is not amused. She told the Sunday Times: "It's full of lies and is hugely exaggerated".

She added: "Of course there is a lot of pressure in ballet and we are athletes who must be very well trained like marathon runners. So we need great stamina and strength.

"But perfection is one thing; this film is something else, with characters who are weird obsessives. What’s most worrying is the huge influence a film like this can have."

Also fearful of the damage the film might do to ballet's image was Maina Gielgud, a former prima ballerina with an international career in ballet administration - and niece of the late actor Sir John Gielgud.

Gielgud was critical of the film's portrayal of dancers vomiting deliberately, pointing out that most western ballet companies now have a dietician attached. She said: "There is no place for the very thin dancer, because they would not have the energy to dance."

Deborah Bull, another former principal dancer, now creative director of the Royal Ballet's experimental wing, was also damning, saying: "We should disabuse people of the idea that this film is about the ballet world.

"Billy Elliot was much more realistic. We are not women on the edge of a nervous breakdown."

Realistic or not, Black Swan has been a critical and box office success - and Portman remains the favourite to win the Golden Globe for best actress, often seen as a good predictor of Oscar success. · 

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