Yes, we know Sarah Lane can dance. And we now know she did 95 percent of the full-body shots in Black Swan that helped Natalie Portman win an Oscar, but didn't get the credit she deserved. But there's a lot more to the story of this (tiny) dancer.
Here are five things you need to know about Portman's dancing double:
Big Things Come in Small Pirouettes: At a petite 5 feet 2 inches tall, Sarah is believed to be the smallest dancer New York City's prestigious American Ballet Theatre ever hired. Born in San Francisco, Sarah's family moved to Memphis, Tenn., where she was home-schooled as a child. After starting tap, jazz and ballet at age 4, she began her professional dance training at 16, receiving a full scholarship to the Boston Ballet Summer Program. Despite her small size, she won a succession of honors, including the Silver Medal at the 2002 Jackson International Ballet Competition, the highest medal in the Junior Division, and performed at the Kennedy Center as a Presidential Scholar.
Nina's Got Nothing on Sarah: Lane auditioned for three dance companies and was initially rejected by American Ballet Theatre, but a twist of fate changed everything. During a gala performance at the Youth America Grand Prix, the sound system crashed, forcing Sarah to either run offstage or keep going as if nothing happened. Luckily, she continued dancing and won a standing ovation. Her grace under pressure won her a Bronze Medal and a second look from ABT, which offered her a contract. She became a member of the company's corps de ballet in 2004 and a soloist in 2007. Despite her small size, the 27-year-old ballerina's skills, lithe body and perfectionism impressed her directors, leading to bigger and bigger parts within the company, among them Anne Boleyn in VIII, the Fairy of Joy in The Sleeping Beauty, a goat in Sylvia and a leading role in Theme and Variations.
Like Portman Is About to Do, She Married a Dancer: Sarah tied the knot with Madrid-born dancer Luis Ribagorda, also an ABT corps member, in December 2007. The couple met four years previously and dated for two years, though unlike her Hollywood doppelgänger she's yet to get pregnant. The pair reside in Union City, N.J., and Lane once told Interview magazine that her union with Ribagorda has balanced out her life because after 12 hours dedicated to classes, rehearsals, and performances, they "can unwind together." As far as hobbies, she also really likes baking, particularly cheesecakes.
On Being the Real Black Swan: Sarah was invited to double for Portman during the filming of Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, an experience she enjoyed for the most part, though the filming wasn't easy. In a December Q&A with Dance magazine, Lane opined: "Watching Natalie and the other actors made me think about how different it is when you're seeing something up close. When you're onstage, the audience is so far away. But it did make me think about how I could use my face more." Of course, the ballerina told Entertainment Weekly last week that she did 95 percent of the work on Black Swan, including many of the thriller's complicated dance sequences, but Portman's face was digitally grafted onto her body and wound up being credited as "Hand Model," "Stunt Double," and "Lady in the Lane," the last of which was a brief walk-on role. Guess she got a lesson in old-school Hollywood Oscar campaigns too.
The Future Looks Bright: Lane has a chance to show her stuff this year to a global audience as the American Ballet Theatre heads overseas. After playing the United Kingdom in February, the company has three days' worth of performances in Moscow this week, and despite the massive disaster there, ABT is still scheduled to proceed with a planned tour of Japan in July.