Ultimate Black Swan Fix & Poster Promo

Together with our awesome sponsor Yumiko we have a new Black Swan giveaway. Four collector posters will be up for grabs (NB: see how to enter below) and this, along with the movie’s imminent US release (3 December, who else is counting down?), was the perfect excuse for us to scour the internet for the latest / most interesting related links. So first things first, here’s the ultimate Black Swan fix:

Black Swan Promo Posters. Images Courtesy Fox Searchlight ©

Interviews & Features

John Lopez for Vanity Fair “Natalie Portman on Black Swan: I’m Only Acting, Dammit!”:

The moment those first pictures of Natalie Portman hit the Web, her red eyes glowing beneath a black-magic tiara, Darren Aronofsky’s ballet-psycho-thriller Black Swan grand jete’d onto the cinephile radar with an air of incipient triumph…Yet, what anchors the film more than anything is Portman’s bravura turn as Nina, the fragile young ballerina who degagés into madness. Read full story at VF.com

Behind the scenes diary from Pennsylvania corps dancer Holly Lynn Fusco for Dance Spirit:

These have been some of the hardest scenes to shoot. Prior to any filming, we rehearse in a basement studio at SUNY Purchase with New York City Ballet principal and Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millepied, former NYCB corps member and associate choreographer Kurt Froman and on-set ballet consultant Olga Kostritzky, a former School of American Ballet teacher. Olga epitomizes “tough love” and whips us into shape. But once we’re on set, everything changes. Because of the cameramen and equipment, the choreography often has to be altered to prevent collisions. Such is Hollywood! Read full diary at Dance Spirit

See also our interview with Amy Westcott, the movie’s costume designer.


Benjamin Millepied at the LA premiere on how he adapted the dance sequences to suit Natalie’s abilities:

“The white swan part was the most out of my comfort zone” Natalie Portman on the challenges her role presented:

“The ballet world was very hard to get into” Darren Aronofsky at London BFI press conference:

“People are gonna hate me for saying it but…” Mila Kunis’s take on the ballet world:

and finally, Mila and Natalie talk extreme training and our favorite girl Winona Ryder shares her experience of ballet:

Review Extracts

Robert Beames for Obsessed With Film:

Best film I’ve seen all year. Left me devastated, excited, tense and emotionally drained. Tarantino will be a fool if he doesn’t give this the Golden Lion (unless something even better is coming up!). Aronofsky has made his first masterpiece and Portman must now be favourite for the Oscar. A perfect film that blends The Red Shoes with Antichrist, via Cronenberg. Read full review at Obsessed With Film

Den of Geek:

…This could take the form of a quick cut, close-up montage (recalling the medication/drug sequences of Pi and Requiem For A Dream) of cracking toe joints and bright red blisters, or, fittingly for a film about doubles, reflections and echoes, glimpses of horror in mirrors, or half-obscured faces. Such psychological red herrings keep surprising, and enthralling the viewer right through to the end, building to a final performance which both works as a fitting character arc crescendo, and a dazzling affirmation of the art of ballet, packing emotional and tonal complexity into its collision of music and dance… Read full review at Den of Geek

Debra Levine for American Film Institute Blog:

The pointe-shoe sequence serves a double purpose. It lures the much-desired male demographic, which may have been dragged to the theater. But by disassociating the foot from its body, Aronofsky signals his defiance of conventional dance-cinematography wisdom: that the medium shot makes for the most felicitous marriage of dance and film. (Decades of experimentation by the likes of Michael Powell, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Jack Cole have proved that the body in full view renders choreography coherent.) Disembodied arms, legs, torsos, and heads–often filmed in close-up–make BLACK SWAN perhaps not a great dance movie, but a visually powerful tour-de-force. Read full review at AFI Blog


Darren Aronofsky opened his screen talk at the 54th London Film Festival last month explaining how he hadn’t tried to avoid the overt hysteria from the ballet world “I didn’t try to avoid it at all, I hope I captured some of it. I wanted to make a film that was sort of a ballet, a dramatisation of Swan Lake so we weren’t really afraid of camp and melodrama.” Explaining that to outsiders ballet may be “a bizarre thing”, the director saw all this as the perfect opportunity to make a movie that was “kind of outrageous to film.” Read  our full review

Websites & Other Links

“I Just Want to be Perfect” – calendar website from the POV of Nina Sayers with eerie video fragments

Twitter – Nina Sayers @theswanqueen

Black Swan Official Website -  with tons of dark and twisted sections, including clips, galleries of stills, new videos, downloads of desktops icons and little Easter eggs hidden around

NYC Red Carpet Premiere Yumiko promo – Follow Yumiko on Twitter for details of how to enter & win 2 tickets for the November 30th movie premiere in New York

Black Swan Poster Promo:

Together with Yumiko and Fox Searchlight we are giving away FOUR exclusive Black Swan posters. “Awesome” does not even begin to describe these posters! They are like art prints with a very unique design which blends references to vintage movie poster with gig poster and Soviet propaganda art.

Posters are size 120 x 70 cm, printed in heavy stock paper with matte texture. As far as we know, they are not currently available to purchase (Natalie Portman Odile Teaser posters are the only ones currently being sold) – here are the four different designs:

You could win one of these four exclusive Black Swan posters. Images Fox Searchlight ©

How to enter

Use the comment form below or email us at theballetbag[at]gmail.com by 3 December (official Black Swan opening date in the US) and let us know:

Who is your all-time favorite Odette/Odile and why?

Feel free to illustrate your answer with links to photos or video. Yes you can pick Nina Sayers as your favorite Swan Queen if you wish! Be creative & good luck!

Entries from all over the globe are welcome. You have four chances to win!

We started The Ballet Bag in April 2009 with the mission to prove that ballet is not stuffy, old fashioned and inaccessible; that it is quite the opposite: relevant, fresh and topical. With the aim to Give Ballet a New Spin we try to show it under a different light. When writing our capsule biographies, ballet fact cards, review roundups and commentary on social media, we cross it over with other art forms and cultural references (pop culture, cinema, rock music – ie. other things we love!).


  • January 31, 2011

    Black Swan Fan Art

    [...] scouted the web for the best Black Swan fan art; we think a few of them give the movie’s Soviet propaganda-style posters some competition, what do you [...]

  • [...] roundup in this previous post at The Ballet Bag Black Swan Poster Promotion [...]

  • December 20, 2010


    Glad to hear you enjoyed it! Thanks for the link, it’s so interesting to put together all the different perspectives, Black Swan’s sound effects are really amazing & we loved the result Aronofsky/Mansell achieved in deconstructing Tchaikovsky’s music!

  • December 18, 2010

    Andrew Spitz

    Emilia, I absolutely loved this movie. Great to get some insight into Black Swan from the dancing world’s perceptive. If you want to get check it out from a sound POV, watch this: http://vimeo.com/17717688

  • December 11, 2010


    Many thanks for all your comments & emails, we’re looking at all the entries and will announce winners next week, promise :)

  • [...] Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky’s Seven Sonatas, and Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once by Benjamin Millepied, whose choreographic works include Passages for the Conservatoire National de Lyon and From Here On [...]

  • December 3, 2010

    Katherine K

    Although I’ve never gotten to see her perform “Swan Lake” live, my favorite Swan Queen is definitely Gillian Murphy (that flexible back! Those cheekbones!)

  • December 3, 2010

    Shanda Hansen

    Natalia Makarova, of course!

  • December 3, 2010


    Sorry if it’s cheating, but I have to split it into video and live.

    Video: Margot Fonteyn. What I’ve come to appreciate more and more is the character arc she draws through the whole ballet. Now (and certainly with ABT’s truncated production) it seems more common to focus on the contrast between Odette in Act 2 and Odile in Act 3. But her Act 4 Odette, vulnerable and loving, is developed beyond Act 2, where she is still cool, wild, and totally protective of the swans. I love how she is actually disappointed with Siegfried at first, so then when she forgives him it is that much more sorrowful and tender. Also, Swan Lake is all about the arabesque, and hers is beautiful. Her balance and phrasing as Odile is quite good, full of control and indifferent menace. My husband found her much better than heavy-breathing Rudi (I love him too, and their dancing in unison most of all).

    Live: Veronika Part. Her physical instrument was created for Odette. And even in the days when she could barely get through Odile’s fouettes, her characterization was filled with a movie star zest. There is a lot of variety to her performances—she doesn’t seem to approach it the same way every time. Very honorable mention is Gillian Murphy. I wish they had waited a few more years before filming her Swan Lake because she is even better now.

    I’ve been really excited about Black Swan and posted a couple of entries inspired by it on my blog. It’s been interesting finding out about the Yumiko brand. I don’t know if there’s a Uniqlo in London, but I’ve been thinking their Heattech line would really appeal to dancers.

  • December 1, 2010


    My favourite Odette/Odile is Marienela Nunez. Love, love, love her! To be honest, I was Swan Laked-out after many years of seeing the ballet and had no wish to see another production. But, I stumbled on a link to the Royal Ballet’s dvd and somewhat reluctantly watched it. I was blown away and fell in love with Swan Lake again. Marienela is achingly, meltingly beautiful in it, with a sublime port de bras. She is certainly swanlike, but clearly a feeling woman. I realize this interpretation isn’t to everyone’s taste, but I think it was partly the “all-bird” aspect that put me off for so many years. I went on to try another couple of Swan dvds and the POB’s Agnes Letestu comes in a close second. But Marienela is still my favourite.

    On the strength of the RB’s Swan Lake dvd I bought several other Royal Ballet productions and really loved Marianela’s performances as the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty and Myrtha in Giselle. Her acting is so good its hard to believe it’s the same person. Granted, my knowledge of her dancing is only through dvd and youtube since I live in Canada, but it has been a real pleasure watching her dance.

    Have to thank you ladies, because I think (but not entirely sure) that the link to Marianela’s Swan Lake originally came from you. In any event, you’ve helped me discover youtube (it has ballet! Who knew!) which has been a wonderful distraction while I’ve been having a rather lengthy recovery from surgery:


  • December 1, 2010


    My all time favourite is Diana Visheva as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. Diana is the perfect prima ballerina with beautiful lines and dances with passion, grace and she has amazing quality. Diana’s performances are believable. When she is dancing Odette she dances with a soft innocence that makes you want to fall in love and when she is Odile she dances with stong arrogance that makes her believable as an evil character.
    The posters are amazing and would look great in my future studio!!! ;-)

  • [...] win exclusive Black Swan movie posters while you’re at it!  Only a few days remain to enter, so check it out here!   Leave a Comment LikeBe the first to like this [...]

  • November 30, 2010


    Svetlana Zakharova
    Irrestible, mysterious, captivating, adorable, unreal, dramatic. Simultaneously vulnerable and strong.
    Poster catches the same quality.


  • November 30, 2010


    My favorite Odette/Odile is Natalia Bessmertnova. I remember my parents watching a VHS of her Swan Lake when I was 4 or 5 years old. This was the first ballet video I ever watched and I was fascinated. I remember my mom explaining the story to me and my dad getting excited for the 32 fouettes in the grand pas. Her performance is how I imagined classical ballerina beauty. I encourage everyone to find this recording and watch!

  • November 29, 2010


    My favorite is Janie Parker. She was the first dancer I ever saw, and she never ceased to amaze me with her strength, beauty and effortless technique. She looked so fragile, and tiny, but when she was on the stage she owned it. She ruled over it. It was breathtaking. I first saw her in Coppelia, then Nutcracker that same year. When I saw her dance Swan Lake the following season…that was the moment I knew I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I actually cried. It was that amazing.

  • November 26, 2010


    ABT’s Gillian Murphy is the best swan queen I’ve seen, her flawless technique paired with her ability to express the character through movement…jaw dropping! My phone won’t let me share the video I want :(

  • November 26, 2010


    ABT’s Gillian Murphy is the best swan queen I’ve seen, her flawless technique paired with her ability to express the character through movement…jaw dropping!

  • November 25, 2010

    Hanne Nordvaag

    Actually – I quite fancy Matthew Bourne’s take on Swan Lake, so I’m inclined to say Adam Cooper… ;)
    But in the traditional sense, I’d go with Svetlana Zakharova.

  • November 25, 2010


    Veronika Part. I’m shallow and she’s stunning.

  • November 24, 2010

    Nina Sayers Fan

    I’m a ballet newbie (and more of a movie buff than dance fan) so I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Nina Sayers – who else besides her and Vicky Page ever had that level of commitment or sacrificed so much for the art of ballet? Yes, I’m still mesmerised by Natalie’s performance as Nina…

  • November 20, 2010

    La Darina

    I agree with Moonbotica, Natalia Makarova is one of the most beautiful Swan Queens. How lucky that this Royal Ballet performance is available on DVD so that we can marvel at her swan-like arms. To this day I have never seen any other performer who can match her in the Act 2 White Swan variation, the way she moves her arms so fast in that diagonal of turns. For me she truly creates the illusion of wings, talk about a hard act for Nina Sayers to follow!

    Makarova & Dowell Swan Lake (see her arms towards 6:50):

  • November 19, 2010


    Natalia Makarova has to be my favourite :)

    I had on VHS and now on DVD her performance as Odette/Odile in a 1980 Royal Ballet production and I am always bowled over by her exit in the first act, the way she moves her arms, to create a swan effect.

    Another bit I love is when Siegfried is about to shoot Rothbard and she stops him and in a moment of stillness puts her hand on the crossbow, its so beautiful and powerful.

    She also brings an element of cruelty into Odile, the manipulation of Siegfried into breaking his promise.

    A beautiful, lyrical dancer and brilliant actress.

  • November 18, 2010

    Alejandra Puente

    Anastasia Volochkova

    To me, she’s everything a ballet dancer should be today, her life and work have made news not only because of her quality as a dancer, but also because of all the scandals around her relation with the Bolshoi Ballet, leaving the regular institutions and just dancing!

    She can’t be labelled, she is a dancer, but she does all those other things in her life, she has the coolest job in the world, but she also has a family life, and different interests.

    I love her dancing, she can get to be so sweet, she’s a great interpreter, you can see she just loves what she does. To me she has always given such intense depth to both roles, without having to be the ‘classical’ view of the roles. I specially love her black swan, it’s so sensual, so moving, she captures your attention and even makes you froget you’re not supposed to like her, though you can’t help it. I just love her dancing, her life, her!

    Black Swan Pas de Deux:

  • November 18, 2010


    Natalia Makarova is my all time favourite Odette/Odile. Watching her, as a kid, in her “Ballerina” series on tv about 16 years ago was the beginning of my intense love of ballet! it was the summer holidays, and every Wednesday afternnon during the dull, grey, wet days I was transported, just for an hour, to her dazzling, glamorous world. Small town Ireland couldn’t have been more different! The excerpts from Swan Lake I loved the most. She encapsulated both personas so incredibly – the black and the white, the dark and the light. I almost couldn’t believe it was the same dancer. Her Odette (partnered in the pas de deux by the wonderful Ivan Nagy) was simply stunning – lyrical, beautiful, and just exquisite. The emotion and her musicality moved me to tears, although I couldn’t, at the time, express quite why. Her Odile was equally thrilling – brilliant, flashing, cruel. I recorded the programme on vhs and replayed it and replayed it til the tape ran out! Totally enthralled by this incredible art, I have remained so ever since, and the inimitable Makarova forever holds a special place in my heart!

  • November 18, 2010


    Excellent! Keep them coming guys, we are loving so many mentions of the Trocks, their Act 2 of Swan Lake – as Henrik points out above – is a total tearjerker – tears of laughter of course ;)

  • November 18, 2010


    Wow! Those posters are amazing!!

    My Fave Odette/Odile was Alexandra Ansanelli for the Royal Ballet. I loved the way she brought such delicacy to Odette without makingher cheese. With regards to her Odile, which perhaps was probably not the most fierce, she was technically amazing in her solos with such strength and precision.

    Having said this, I must also admit a soft spot for the Trocks dying swan solo :)

    xx Sara

  • November 18, 2010

    Pauline Cheng

    I loved Uliana Lopatkina as Odette/Odile. She just has this amazing quality about her, she could be just standing on stage and you’d not be able to take your eyes off her. Add to that her astonishing technique which appears so effortless. She definitely conveyed the heartbreak and sensuality of the dual character.
    If we’re going beyond the traditional female swan, I’d have to say the men who dance the Swan/Stranger role in the productions of Matthew Bourne’s version are remarkable! I love this interpretation and was even more moved when I saw this again in NYC. MB’s dancers are always top-notch.

  • November 18, 2010


    There’s Martine van Hamel, and there’s everybody else.

  • November 17, 2010


    Fernando Medina Gallego of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo!! The Trocks are innovative, talented, and HILARIOUS. How could he not be your favorite Odette?


  • November 17, 2010


    Polina Semionova is my favourite Odette/Odile. Her Odette is soft and sad, portraying a very fragile character that needs protection. She responds to the music and the music score definitely fuels the emotions in and from her dancing.
    I love her Odile, as it is one of the strongest, most aggressive and powerful black swans I’ve ever seen – the evilness and the power to seduce exudes from it greatly. I really like her poise during her Odile as seen here: . She manages to keep that air of evil confidence (by the way she holds her head and chest) as a tool of seduction from start to end, conjuring up the suspense and tension for the storyline. I also like the way that she smiles her way through the fouettes as you can see from the same video :)
    The contrast between her Odette and Odile wins my vote. Polina’s Odette/Odile depictions are paired with perfect technique and adequate facial expressions, which makes the performances even more wonderful!

  • November 17, 2010

    Henrik from Tights and Tiaras

    My favorite Odette must be Nina Enimenimynimova (or is that Long Zou?!) from the Trocks! (S)he performed the second act pas de deux in a way I have yet to see equaled – hilarious, entertaining, but tender and soft at the same time!! You know that saying that “no seats are dry” after a great performance?! This is true when watching the Trockaderos! I was laughing, crying, one after each other (or one leading to the other) constantly, a truly great experience as an audience, something I will remember far longer than certain Odette/Odile’s legs and arms…

    On the “serious” side (not that the Trocks are not – I would not try to do some of the elements they perform – and I’m a professional dancer), I would have to say Svetlana Zakharova. She has a grace and a beauty which is simply mind-blowing. I didn’t like her Don Q much, and she sure can develop as a character in many of her performances, but as the fragile Odette, she is just fantastic. Oh, and those developpés…. And she truly did impress me with her interpretation of Odile! After seeing Don Q, I was a bit sceptic, but she was fierce, almost sexy as Odile, A+ from me and standing ovations well deserved.

  • November 17, 2010

    Maria de Miguel

    I think the first one I ever saw it’s still my favourite. It’s Alla Mikhalchenko from Bolshoi Ballet.
    Yes, she may not be the most perfect ballerina ever – she doesn’t have amazing feet or is as tall as today’s ballet superstars, but there is something about her performance that just has stayed with me since I was a little kid.

    What I love the most is that she is capable of portraying both characters Odette/Odile in a very believeable way, while most dancers are either great at one or the other. But she finds a wonderful ballance between the two. Her Odette is femenine and fragile, but not weak, and it’s got some dark tormentous edge that just fascinates me; while her Odile breathes sensuality in the form of a real femme fatal. She’s not just fierce, she’s even evil.

    Also, her slightly bird-like features match the roles in a very interesting way.

    On these videos you can see her along with partner Yuri Vasyuchenko. Amazing musicality and soulfulness. Actually, rewatching these makes me think about when ballet wasn’t just about having overextended legs and doing thousands of piruettes, but also theatricality.

    Pas d’action
    Black Swan variation

  • November 17, 2010

    Melissa A

    My favorite would have to be the one and only Susan Jaffe. Her ability to become any character never ceases to amaze me.

  • November 17, 2010

    David from DaveTriesBallet

    So originally I was going to pick Gillian Murphy as my favorite Odette/Odile, mainly because I have watched ABT’s Swan Lake far too many times to count, but I then decided on the wonderful Julie Kent.

    I am judging this choice mainly on her portrayal of Odette. I feel that Julie Kent has an amazing aura about her of pure femininity which is perfect for the role of Odette. She has such a fragility to her, that is so essential to an honest performance as Odette. When this is paired with a strong partner (such as Marcelo Gomes in this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4y-7pQylog) the extremes of masculinity and femininity play off each other to produce magic.

    Add to that her flawless technique and the role becomes perfection for her. Her Odette is fragile, her Odile is fierce, and she still plays this double role at 41, 18 years after debuting as Odette/Odile at age 23, and 25 years after joining ABT. Astonishing!

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