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Professional dancers weigh in on 'Black Swan'

Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg, two principals in the New York's American Ballet Theatre, share their thoughts after a viewing.

December 07, 2010|By David Ng, Los Angeles Times

GM: I've not personally witnessed parents like that. When someone becomes a professional dancer at 17 or 18, it really has to be something you want to do personally. If someone has a mom like Barbara Hershey — who I thought did an extraordinary job — that dancer would burn out before he or she got to the professional level.

DH: You notice that more so when people are in school. You definitely see some mothers really going full out with the dedication of their child. That was very prevalent when I was training at my school in Phoenix. I like to say that talent speaks for itself. Overbearing mothers, when it all boils down to it, don't get you the part.

Q: As professionals, is it difficult to watch ballet-themed movies that are aimed at general audiences?

GM: Ballet movies in general have a lot of stereotypes, but I've enjoyed many of them. I would like to see a dance movie that is more realistic. One of my favorite films of all time is "The Red Shoes." It has great performances and amazing cinematography. It asks the question of how can a dancer experience and portray greatness onstage and also have a full personal life — and as a woman, have kids and get married. In this day and age, people do it all the time.

DH: It's hard to be objective as a dancer seeing a dance film. Once they start talking "ballet talk" in a movie, you know it is geared toward a general audience, which I can understand. There's a sense of generality that dancers pick up on. ... But there's such a diversity of movies out there. "Center Stage" was very bubbly — the pop side of ballet. "Black Swan" is, of course, completely different.

david.ng@latimes.com

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