"Black Swan" gets mixed review from Milwaukee Ballet dancer
In the critically acclaimed "Black Swan" Natalie Portman plays a sheltered ballerina who slowly unravels after getting the coveted lead role in "Swan Lake."
Valerie Harmon is a much more mentally stable dancer from the Milwaukee Ballet Company who performed in the ballet's 2006 production of "Swan Lake." Harmon, who grew up near Santa Barbara, Calif., joined the ballet full-time in 2008 after completing a two-year training program.
With Portman taking home a Golden Globe for the role, and the film still showing in several theaters around town, I decided to ask Harmon what she thought of the movie.
Harmon was kind enough to take a break to share her thoughts on the movie as she prepares for the remainder of the 2010-11 season and the ballet's upcoming production "Genesis," an international choreographic competition that runs Feb. 10-13.
Spoiler alert: If you haven't seen the movie there are a few details mentioned, but nothing that should ruin the movie for you.
OnMilwaukee.com: What did you think of the movie?
Valerie Harmon: I'd say it's a mixed review. It's not a movie that I can say one way or the other I loved or I hated. Parts of it I really enjoyed and parts of it I didn't love. I think that they did a great job, Natalie Portman especially, with the training that she did for the movie. You can tell she put the time into it and I really have a lot of respect for that.
And I liked the ballet that they used to kind of create this creepy movie. "Swan Lake" is the perfect story line for it with the innocence, with evil and interweaving that into a dancers life I thought was really well done.
OMC: I know you have danced in "Swan Lake" before, have you ever danced the lead role that Portman's character is performing?
VH: I didn't. That still kind of is one of my dream roles, ever since I was little; especially the role of what swan. For instance here in Michael Pink's version he uses two different women. One does White Swan, one does Black Swan, which has its pros and cons. It's a different interpretation and a lot of companies will have -- just like in the movies -- the same girl do White Swan and Black Swan. And choreographically they are so different, artistically so different and challenging in different ways. But I've never danced the lead in it and I'd say that's still one of my aspirations.
OMC: Is the role as challenging, then, as it's depicted in the film, because it's such a dynamic part?
VH: To make it believable and just the fact alone that you are a human depicting a swan. I think that's what is so beautiful to me about the ballet, to see dancers who embody that quality and the softness and the vulnerability of White Swan. It's incredible and there is a human aspect of that, because while you are an animal you are healing something also. The Black Swan part is usually technically and choreographically challenging. A little more dynamic usually and so that is hard in its own way as well, especially if you are working on both parts to have that daily switch in a day's work. I would imagine it would be really difficult.
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Theaters and showtimes for Black Swan
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