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[personal profile] jenschmitadam
Several years ago I wrote a short story about a ballerina driven to make a deal with a demon in order to dance a coveted role. When she breaks the bargain, he pursues her to a small town and she's forced into a confrontation. The story won honorable mention in an international contest, but all the editorial comments mentioned the scope of the story and said, "There's too much here for a short story."

So I set it aside, thinking I might explore it as a novel at some point.

I've worked on other projects in the meantime, but this story remains close to my heart. A few months ago I wrote an outline and began doing research.

When I saw previews for The Black Swan, I knew I had to see it. It touches on all the themes central to my own story: ageism within professional companies, competition, perfection and obsession... and how far a dancer will go for her chance to shine.

I finally had the chance to watch the DVD last night. First of all, the relationship between Nina (Natalie Portman) and her mother is creepy on its own. Her mother, a former corps de ballet member, clearly has issues of her own and has pushed Nina to a point of obsession. Her control leaves Nina unbalanced and ill-equipped to deal with the pressures of the spotlight. Nina's psychological collapse occurs when the artistic director (Vincent Cassel) urges her to find her passion in order to dance the role of the wickedly seductive Black Swan. Shadowed by the easy sensuality of rival Lily (Mila Kunis), Nina's grip on reality begins to fracture.

The visual imagery of this movie is incredibly beautiful and I loved the smooth incorporation of thematic elements. When the director tells the dancers his version of Swan Lake will require one dancer to perform both the part of the White Swan and the Black Swan, he is standing before the seam of a mirror and his reflection is split in two, a clever foreshadowing. The use of light and dark, timing, and score evokes tension and suspense. And I loved the way the core story of Swan Lake is threaded through Nina's experiences.

This movie highlights the duality inherent in the world of ballet by contrasting the ethereal perfection of performance with the brutal reality backstage, the virgin purity of a young girl with the sensual passion of dance, the line between dedication and obsession.

It is disturbing, provocative, and visually stunning. I loved it, even as I cringed in discomfort.

Incredible movie.
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May 2011

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