Black Swan (film)

Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological horror film [4][5] directed by Darren Aronofsky. The screenplay was written by Mark Heyman, John McLaughlin, and Andres Heinz, based on an original story by Heinz. The film stars Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, and Winona Ryder. The plot revolves around a production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet by the prestigious New York City Ballet company. The production requires a ballerina to play the innocent and fragile White Swan, for which the committed dancer Nina (Portman) is a perfect fit, as well as the dark and sensual Black Swan, which are qualities better embodied by the new arrival Lily (Kunis). Nina is overwhelmed by a feeling of immense pressure when she finds herself competing for the part, causing her to lose her tenuous grip on reality and descend into a living nightmare.

Usually described as a psychological horror film, Black Swan can be also interpreted as a metaphor for achieving artistic perfection, with all the psychological and physical challenges one might encounter, i.e. "the film can be perceived as a poetic metaphor for the birth of an artist, that is, as a visual representation of Nina's psychic odyssey toward achieving artistic perfection and of the price to be paid for it."[6]

Aronofsky conceived the premise by connecting his viewings of a production of Swan Lake with an unrealized screenplay about understudies and the notion of being haunted by a double, similar to the folklore surrounding doppelgängers. Aronofsky cites Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Double as another inspiration for the film. The director also considered Black Swan a companion piece to his 2008 film The Wrestler, with both films involving demanding performances for different kinds of art. He and Portman first discussed the project in 2000, and after a brief attachment to Universal Studios, Black Swan was produced in New York City in 2009 by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Portman and Kunis trained in ballet for several months prior to filming, and notable figures from the ballet world helped with film production to shape the ballet presentation.

The film premiered as the opening film for the 67th Venice International Film Festival on September 1, 2010. It had a limited release in the United States starting December 3, 2010 and opened in wide release on December 17. The film upon release was a critical and commercial success. Critics praised Portman's performance and Aronofsky's direction, while the film grossed over $329 million worldwide. It received five nominations at the 83rd Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and winning Best Actress (for Portman).

Black Swan
The poster for the film shows Natalie Portman with white facial makeup, black-winged eye liner around bloodshot red eyes, and a jagged crystal tiara
Directed byDarren Aronofsky
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story byAndres Heinz
Starring
Music byClint Mansell
CinematographyMatthew Libatique
Edited byAndrew Weisblum
Production
companies
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release date
  • September 1, 2010 (Venice)
  • December 3, 2010 (United States)
Running time
108 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$13 million[2]
Box office$329.4 million[3]

Plot

Nina Sayers is a 28-year-old dancer in a New York City ballet company, which is preparing to open its new season with Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. With prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre being forced into retirement, artistic director Thomas Leroy announces he is looking for a new dancer to portray the dual role of the innocent White Swan and the sensual Black Swan. Nina auditions for the role and gives a flawless performance as the White Swan, but fails to embody the Black Swan.

The following day, Nina asks Thomas to reconsider choosing her to play the role. When he forcibly kisses her, she bites him before running out of his office. Later that day, Nina sees the cast list and discovers, much to her surprise and that of her overprotective mother Erica, she will be portraying the lead. At a gala celebrating the new season, an intoxicated Beth confronts Nina, accusing her of sleeping with Thomas to get the role. The following day, Nina discovers that Beth was hit by a car while walking in the street and Thomas believes she did it on purpose.

During rehearsals, Thomas tells Nina to observe new dancer Lily, whom he describes as possessing an uninhibited quality that Nina lacks. Nina also falls victim to several hallucinations of a doppelgänger following her wherever she goes and finds unexplained scratch marks on her back. One night, Nina accepts Lily's invitation to dinner despite Erica's objections.

Over dinner, Lily offers Nina an ecstasy capsule to help her relax. Nina turns it down, but later accepts a drink laced with ecstasy powder. The two dance at a nightclub and return to Nina's apartment late. After fighting with her mother, Nina barricades herself in her room and has sex with Lily. The following morning, Nina wakes up alone and realizes she is late for the dress rehearsal. Upon arriving at Lincoln Center, she finds Lily dancing as the Black Swan and confronts her about their night together. When Lily doesn't recall, Nina realizes that their encounter never took place.

After learning that Thomas has made Lily her alternate, Nina's hallucinations grow increasingly stronger to the point where Erica tries to prevent her from performing on opening night. Nina forces her way out of the apartment and arrives at Lincoln Center only to discover that Lily is set to take over. She confronts Thomas, who becomes so impressed by her confidence that he allows her to perform.

During the end of the play's second act, Nina becomes distracted by a hallucination, causing her partner to drop her. She returns to her dressing room and finds Lily preparing to play the Black Swan. When Lily transforms into Nina's doppelgänger, the two engage in a fight that ends with Nina stabbing the doppelgänger with a shard of glass, only to reveal that it had actually been Lily who had been stabbed. She hides the corpse and returns to the stage, where she loses herself and gives a flawless performance as the Black Swan.

Nina receives a standing ovation from the audience and, after surprising Thomas with a passionate kiss, returns to her dressing room. While changing, Nina hears a knock at the door and opens it to find Lily alive and congratulating her. Realizing the fight never occurred, and yet the mirror is still broken, and that she had stabbed herself, Nina quietly continues changing.

After dancing the final act, in which the White Swan attempts to commit suicide by throwing herself off a cliff but instead falls onto a hidden mattress, the theater erupts in thunderous applause and Thomas, Lily, and the cast gather to congratulate Nina. They then discover that she is bleeding profusely. Thomas orders some of the dancers to go get help and frantically asks Nina what she did. Nina replies to him that her performance was perfect and loses consciousness as the screen slowly fades to white.

Cast

During the closing credits, the major cast members were credited both as their film characters as well as their corresponding characters from Swan Lake.

Production

Conception

Wiener Staatsoper Schwanensee Szene Akt3a
The scene from the ballet Swan Lake in which the Black Swan (Odile) tricks and seduces the Prince

Darren Aronofsky first became interested in ballet when his sister studied dance at the High School of Performing Arts in New York City. The basic idea for the film started when he hired screenwriters to rework a screenplay called The Understudy, which portrayed off-Broadway actors and explored the notion of being haunted by a double. Aronofsky said the screenplay had elements of All About Eve, Roman Polanski's The Tenant, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novella The Double. The director had also seen numerous productions of Swan Lake, and he connected the duality of the White Swan and the Black Swan to the script.[7] When researching for the production of Black Swan, Aronofsky found ballet to be "a very insular world" whose dancers were "not impressed by movies". Regardless, the director found active and inactive dancers to share their experiences with him. He also stood backstage to see the Bolshoi Ballet perform at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.[8]

Aronofsky called Black Swan a companion piece to his previous film The Wrestler, recalling one of his early projects about a love affair between a wrestler and a ballerina. He eventually separated the wrestling and the ballet worlds as "too much for one movie". He compared the two films: "Wrestling some consider the lowest art—if they would even call it art—and ballet some people consider the highest art. But what was amazing to me was how similar the performers in both of these worlds are. They both make incredible use of their bodies to express themselves."[8] About the psychological thriller nature of Black Swan, actress Natalie Portman compared the film's tone to Polanski's 1968 film Rosemary's Baby,[9] while Aronofsky said Polanski's Repulsion (1965) and The Tenant (1976) were "big influences" on the final film.[8] Actor Vincent Cassel also compared Black Swan to Polanski's early works and additionally compared it to David Cronenberg's early works.[10]

Casting

20120712 Mila Kunis @ Comic-con cropped
Mila Kunis was first approached to perform in Black Swan in 2008.

Aronofsky first discussed with Portman the possibility of a ballet film in 2000, and he found she was interested in playing a ballet dancer.[8] Portman explained being part of Black Swan, "I'm trying to find roles that demand more adulthood from me because you can get stuck in a very awful cute cycle as a woman in film, especially being such a small person."[11] Portman suggested to Aronofsky that her good friend Mila Kunis would be perfect for the role. Kunis contrasted Lily with Nina, "My character is very loose ... She's not as technically good as Natalie's character, but she has more passion, naturally. That's what [Nina] lacks."[12] The female characters are directed in the Swan Lake production by Thomas Leroy, played by Cassel. He compared his character to George Balanchine, who co-founded New York City Ballet and was "a control freak, a true artist using sexuality to direct his dancers".[13]

Portman and Kunis started training six months before the start of filming in order to attain a body type and muscle tone more similar to those of professional dancers.[7] Portman worked out for five hours a day, doing ballet, cross-training, and swimming. A few months closer to filming, she began choreography training.[14] Kunis engaged in cardio and Pilates, "train[ing] seven days a week, five hours, for five, six months total, and ... was put on a very strict diet of 1,200 calories a day." She lost 20 pounds from her normal weight of about 117 pounds, and reported that Portman "became smaller than I did."[15] Kunis said, "I did ballet as a kid like every other kid does ballet. You wear a tutu and you stand on stage and you look cute and twirl. But this is very different because you can't fake it. You can't just stay in there and like pretend you know what you're doing. Your whole body has to be structured differently."[16] Georgina Parkinson, a ballet mistress from the American Ballet Theatre (ABT), coached the actors in ballet.[17] ABT soloists Sarah Lane and Maria Riccetto served as "dance doubles" for Portman and Kunis respectively.[18] Dancer Kimberly Prosa also served as a double for Portman. She stated: "Natalie took class, she studied for several months, from the waist up is her. Sarah Lane a soloist at ABT, did the heavy tricks, she did the fouettés, but they only had her for a limited time, a couple of weeks, so I did the rest of whatever dance shots they needed."[19]

In addition to the soloist performances, members of the Pennsylvania Ballet were cast as the corps de ballet, backdrop for the main actors' performances.[7] Also appearing in the film are Kristina Anapau,[20] Toby Hemingway,[21] Sebastian Stan,[22] and Janet Montgomery.[23]

Development and filming

Artscenter
Part of the filming took place at the State University of New York at Purchase Performing Arts Center.

Aronofsky and Portman first discussed a ballet film in 2000, after the release of Requiem for a Dream, though the script had not yet been written.[8] He told her about a love scene between competing ballet dancers, and Portman recalled, "I thought that was very interesting because this movie is in so many ways an exploration of an artist's ego and that narcissistic sort of attraction to yourself and also repulsion with yourself."[24] On the decade's wait before production, she said, "The fact that I had spent so much time with the idea ... allowed it to marinate a little before we shot."[25]

The screenplay The Understudy was written by Andres Heinz; Aronofsky first heard about it while editing his second film Requiem for a Dream (2000) and described it as "All About Eve with a double, set in the off-Broadway world." After making The Fountain (2006), Aronofsky and producer Mike Medavoy had screenwriter John McLaughlin rewrite The Understudy; Aronofsky said McLaughlin "took my idea of Swan Lake and the ballet and put [the story] into the ballet world and changed the title to Black Swan."[26] When Aronofsky proposed a detailed outline of Black Swan to Universal Pictures, the studio decided to fast-track development of the project in January 2007.[27] The project "sort of died, again" according to Aronofsky, until after the making of The Wrestler (2008), when he had Mark Heyman, director of development of Aronofsky's production company Protozoa Pictures, write for Black Swan "and made it something that was workable."[26] By June 2009, Universal had placed the project in turnaround, generating attention from other studios and specialty divisions, particularly with actress Portman attached to star.[28] Black Swan began development under Protozoa Pictures and Overnight Productions, the latter financing the film. In July 2009, Kunis was cast.[29]

Fox Searchlight Pictures distributed Black Swan and gave the film a production budget of $10–12 million. Principal photography was achieved using Super 16 mm cameras and began in New York City toward the end of 2009.[30][31] Part of filming took place at the Performing Arts Center at State University of New York at Purchase.[7] Aronofsky filmed Black Swan with a muted palette and a grainy style, which he intended to be similar to The Wrestler.[32] Aronofsky said

I like Super 16 because the cameras are really light, really moveable. Also, for The Wrestler it was a money-saving thing. The film stocks on 35mm would become so glossy that they'd get close to what people are doing on video. I wanted to go back to the grainy, vérité feel of The Wrestler ... Like with wrestling, ballet is shot in wide shot with two shots on the side, and no one really brought the camera—well, wrestling—into the ring or for us, onto the stage and into the practice room. I really wanted the camera to dance, but I was nervous about shooting a psychological thriller/horror film with a hand-held camera. I couldn't think of another example where they did that ... steady-cams are very different than hand-helds, because hand-held gives you that verite feel. I was concerned if that would affect the suspense, but after a while I said, "screw it, let's go for it.[26]

Controversies

Several critics noted striking similarities between Satoshi Kon's 1997 anime film Perfect Blue and Aronofsky's Black Swan.[33][34] In response to comparisons between Perfect Blue and Black Swan, Aronofsky acknowledged the similarities in 2010, but denied that Black Swan was inspired by Perfect Blue.[33] Kon noted in his blog that he had met with Aronofsky in 2001.[34]

Costume design

Amy Westcott is credited as the costume designer and received several award nominations. A publicized controversy arose regarding the question of who had designed 40 ballet costumes for Portman and the dancers. An article in the British newspaper The Independent suggested those costumes had actually been created by Rodarte's Kate and Laura Mulleavy.[35] Westcott challenged that view and stated that in all only 7 costumes, among them the Black and White Swan, had been created in a collaboration between Rodarte, Westcott, and Aronofsky. Furthermore, the corps ballet's costumes were designed by Zack Brown (for the American Ballet Theatre), and slightly adapted by Westcott and her costume design department. Westcott said: "Controversy is too complimentary a word for two people using their considerable self-publicising resources to loudly complain about their credit once they realized how good the film is."[36]

Dance double

ABT dancer Sarah Lane served as a "dance double" for Portman in the film.[37] In a March 3 blog entry for Dance Magazine, editor-in-chief Wendy Perron asked: "Do people really believe that it takes only one year to make a ballerina? We know that Natalie Portman studied ballet as a kid and had a year of intensive training for the film, but that doesn't add up to being a ballerina. However, it seems that many people believe that Portman did her own dancing in Black Swan."[38][39] This led to responses from Benjamin Millepied and Aronofsky, who both defended Portman, as well as a response from Lane claiming that she has not been given due credit.[40][41][42]

Soundtrack

The non-original music featured in Black Swan consists of music by Tchaikovsky featuring performances on-screen and in the soundtrack by violinist Tim Fain[43] and a track of electronica dance music by English production duo The Chemical Brothers. It marks the fifth consecutive collaboration between Aronofsky and English composer Clint Mansell, who composed the original score for the film. Mansell attempted to score the film based on Tchaikovsky's ballet[44] but with radical changes to the music.[45] Because of the use of Tchaikovsky's music, the score was deemed ineligible to be entered into the 2010 Academy Awards for Best Original Score.[46]

The Chemical Brothers' music, which is featured prominently during the club scene in Black Swan, is omitted from the soundtrack album.[47]

Release

NataliePortmanTIFFSept10
Portman at a premiere for the film at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival

Black Swan had its world premiere as the opening film at the 67th Venice Film Festival on September 1, 2010. It received a standing ovation whose length Variety said made it "one of the strongest Venice openers in recent memory".[48] The festival's artistic director Marco Mueller had chosen Black Swan over The American (starring George Clooney) for opening film, saying, "[It] was just a better fit ... Clooney is a wonderful actor, and he will always be welcome in Venice. But it was as simple as that."[49] Black Swan screened in competition and is the third consecutive film directed by Aronofsky to premiere at the festival, following The Fountain and The Wrestler.[50] Black Swan was presented in a sneak screening at the Telluride Film Festival on September 5, 2010.[51] It also had a Gala screening at the 35th Toronto International Film Festival later in the month.[52][53] In October 2010, Black Swan was screened at the New Orleans Film Festival,[54] the Austin Film Festival,[55] and the BFI London Film Festival.[56] In November 2010, the film was screened at American Film Institute's AFI Fest in Los Angeles, the Denver Film Festival and Camerimage Festival in Bydgoszcz, Poland.[57]

The release of Black Swan in the United Kingdom was brought forward from February 11 to January 21, 2011. According to The Independent, the film was considered one of "the most highly anticipated" films of late 2010. The newspaper then compared it to the 1948 ballet film The Red Shoes in having "a nightmarish quality ... of a dancer consumed by her desire to dance".[58]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in Region 1/Region A on March 29, 2011.[59] The Region 2/Region B version was released on May 16, 2011.

Reception

Box office

Black Swan had a limited release in select cities in North America on December 3, 2010, in 18 theaters[60] and was a surprise box office success.[61] The film took in a total of $415,822 on its opening day, averaging $23,101 per theater.[62] By the end of its opening weekend it grossed $1,443,809—$80,212 per theater. The per location average was the second highest for the opening weekend of 2010 behind The King's Speech.[63] The film is Fox Searchlight Pictures' highest per-theater average gross ever, and it ranks 21st on the all-time list.[64] On its second weekend the film expanded to 90 theaters, and grossed $3.3 million, ranking it as the sixth film at the box-office.[65] In its third weekend, it expanded again to 959 theaters and grossed $8,383,479. The film went on to gross over $106 million in the United States and over $329 million worldwide.[3]

Critical reception

Black Swan press 2010
Black Swan cast and crew (from left to right: producer Scott Franklin, actress Mila Kunis, actor Vincent Cassel, director Darren Aronofsky) discuss the film with Sandra Hebron at the BFI London Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Film

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 85% based on reviews from 291 reviews, and an average rating of 8.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Bracingly intense, passionate, and wildly melodramatic, Black Swan glides on Darren Aronofsky's bold direction—and a bravura performance from Natalie Portman."[66] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out to reviews, the film received an average score of 79 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[67]

In September 2010, Entertainment Weekly reported that based on reviews from the film's screening at the Venice Film Festival, "[Black Swan] is already set to be one of the year's most love-it-or-hate-it movies."[68] Leonard Maltin, on his blog Movie Crazy, admitted that he "couldn't stand" the film, despite praising Natalie Portman's performance.[69] Reuters described the early response to the film as "largely positive" with Portman's performance being highly praised.[70] The Sydney Morning Herald reported that "the film divided critics. Some found its theatricality maddening, but most declared themselves 'swept away'."[71]

Kurt Loder of Reason magazine called the film "wonderfully creepy", and wrote that "it's not entirely satisfying; but it's infused with the director's usual creative brio, and it has a great dark gleaming look."[72] Mike Goodridge from Screen Daily called Black Swan "alternately disturbing and exhilarating" and described the film as a hybrid of The Turning Point and Polanski's films Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby. Goodridge described Portman's performance, "[She] is captivating as Nina ... she captures the confusion of a repressed young woman thrown into a world of danger and temptation with frightening veracity." The critic also commended Cassel, Kunis, and Hershey in their supporting roles, particularly comparing Hershey to Ruth Gordon in the role of "the desperate, jealous mother". Goodridge praised Libatique's cinematography with the dance scenes and the psychologically "unnerving" scenes: "It's a mesmerising psychological ride that builds to a gloriously theatrical tragic finale as Nina attempts to deliver the perfect performance."[73]

Venice Film Festival
Black Swan opened at the 67th Venice International Film Festival, making it the third consecutive Aronofsky film to be screened at the ceremony. It was nominated for the Golden Lion and Mila Kunis won the Marcello Mastroianni Award.

Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a mixed review. He wrote, "[Black Swan] is an instant guilty pleasure, a gorgeously shot, visually complex film whose badness is what's so good about it. You might howl at the sheer audacity of mixing mental illness with the body-fatiguing, mind-numbing rigors of ballet, but its lurid imagery and a hellcat competition between two rival dancers is pretty irresistible." Honeycutt commended Millepied's "sumptuous" choreography and Libatique's "darting, weaving" camera work. The critic said of the thematic mashup, "Aronofsky ... never succeeds in wedding genre elements to the world of ballet ... White Swan/Black Swan dynamics almost work, but the horror-movie nonsense drags everything down the rabbit hole of preposterousness."[74] Similarly, in a piece for The Huffington Post, Rob Kirkpatrick praised Portman's performance but compared the film's story to that of Showgirls (1995) and Burlesque (2010) while concluding Black Swan is "simply higher-priced cheese, Aronofsky's camembert to [Burlesque director Steve] Antin's cheddar.[75]

The film has been criticized for its portrayal of ballet and ballet dancers. Upon the film's release in the United Kingdom, The Guardian interviewed four professional ballet dancers in the UK: Tamara Rojo, Lauren Cuthbertson, Edward Watson, and Elena Glurjidze. Rojo called the film "lazy ... featuring every ballet cliche going." Watson felt that the film "makes [ballet] look so naff and laughable. It doesn't show why ballet is so important to us – why we would want to try so hard."[76] The Canadian Press also reported that many Canadian ballet dancers felt that the film depicted dancers negatively and exaggerated elements of their lives but gave Portman high marks for her dance technique.[77] In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Gillian Murphy a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre praised the visual elements of the film but noted that the film presentation of the ballet world was "extreme."[78]

Accolades

Black Swan appeared on many critics' top ten lists of 2010 and is frequently considered to be one of the best films of the year.[79] It was featured on the American Film Institute's 10 Movies of the Year.[80] On January 25, 2011 the film was nominated for five Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing) and won one for Portman's performance.[81]

See also

References

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External links

Black swan (disambiguation)

Black swan is the common name for Cygnus atratus, an Australasian waterfowl.

Black Swan may also refer to

Dance in film

This is a list of movies featuring recognizable dance forms, demonstrating them, shedding light on their origin, or being the base of a plot.

This article is not about Dance film or Dance for camera which are separate genres. It is also not about Musical films, although they often contain a significant amount of dancing. However, they are a specific form of art in itself, therefore their listings generally pertain to the articles specifically related to the topic of musicals. This by no means prevents musicals from being included here, but they are required to meet the outlined criteria. Fred Astaire's and Gene Kelly's filmographies may significantly contribute to these lists.

Darren Aronofsky's unrealized projects

The following is a list of unproduced Darren Aronofsky projects in roughly chronological order. During his long career, American film director Darren Aronofsky has worked on a number of projects which never progressed beyond the pre-production stage under his direction. Some of these projects fell in development hell or were cancelled.

Dubbing Brothers International Italia

Dubbing Brothers International Italia is an Italian dubbing studio based in Rome. It is the Italian division of the Saint-Denis based dubbing studio Dubbing Brothers.The studio produces Italian language dubbed versions of numerous movies and TV shows. Numerous voice actors work at the studio.

Family Classics

Family Classics is a Chicago television series which began in 1962 when Frazier Thomas was added to another program at WGN-TV. Thomas not only hosted classic films, but also selected the titles and personally edited them to remove those scenes which he thought were not fit for family viewing. After Thomas' death in 1985, Roy Leonard took over the program. The series continued sporadically until its initial cancellation in 2000.On November 10, 2017, WGN announced that Family Classics would be returning after a 17-year hiatus with a presentation of the 1951 version of Scrooge to air on Friday, December 8, 2017, and announced that its longtime entertainment reporter, Dean Richards, would be the new host.

Geoff Foster

Geoff Foster is an English recording and mix engineer, best known for his work on numerous film scores.

Heather Watts

Heather Watts (born Linda Heather Watts, in Long Beach, California on September 27, 1953) was a principal ballerina with New York City Ballet. Born in Long Beach, California, her dream as a little girl was to be an actress. An acting coach advised her taking ballet classes, seeing as she was incredibly dramatic (and clumsy). So he started dancing at the age of 10, to "develop poise". She came to New York at the age of 13 on a Ford Foundation summer scholarship to attend the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet. She moved permanently to New York at age 15, again on a Ford Foundation scholarship to the School of American Ballet.

Watts joined the New York City Ballet in 1970 and was promoted to principal dancer by company founder George Balanchine in 1979. Balanchine took Watts into his companies "because he would not let such a talent disappear." During Watts's tenure with the company, she had numerous principal roles created for her by Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Peter Martins among others. Balanchine gave Watts the principal roles in many of his existing masterpieces, including Agon, Concerto Barocco, Apollo, Symphony in C, Theme and Variations and Serenade. Watts performed around the world and starred in numerous Dance in America television programs, and she performed opposite frequent partner Mikhail Baryshnikov at the White House in a national televised performance of Balanchine's Rubies for President and Mrs. Carter. Watts retired from the stage in a gala performance at Lincoln Center in 1995. She married fellow New York City Ballet Principal Damian Woetzel in 1999.

In addition to her dancing career, Watts was director of the New York State Summer School of the Arts in Saratoga Springs from 1982 to 1994, where she administered a ballet school for gifted children. Watts has directed many national and international dance touring companies, including a tour entitled "Homage a Balanchine" of 108 cities for Columbia Artists, and she has rehearsed and staged ballets around the world. She has also designed costumes for new ballets at the New York City Ballet, as well as for Off-Broadway productions. Watts was a founding board member of Gods Love We Deliver and also served on the board of Friends In Deed, both services for persons living with AIDS—she was among the first artists to join the fight against AIDS in the mid-1980s. She is the co-author, with fellow NYCB collaborator Jock Soto, of the cookbook "Our Meals: Making a Home for Family and Friends" (Riverhead, 1997). Among the many awards that Watts has received are Jerome Robbins Award, the Dance Magazine Award, the L'Oreal Shining Star Award, the Lions of the Performing Arts Award from the New York Public Library, and various state awards for education. She has appeared on the Charlie Rose Show, Good Morning America, and the CBS Morning News among other programs. Watts has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and currently serves on the Artists Committee for the Kennedy Center Honors, and on the selection committee for the Bessie Awards 2011 in New York City.

Watts has been a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine since 1995. She currently covers arts and culture for the magazine, and is the photographer Bruce Weber's editor. She has also written articles for Vanity Fair, as well as Italian Vogue, L'Uomo Vogue, and Dance Magazine among other publications. She was an official technical consultant for the motion-picture Black Swan (film).

Watts was the Class of 1932 Visiting Lecturer in Dance at Princeton University for 2011-12.[1] Watts also co-created a new seminar for the Dance Education Laboratory at the 92nd Street Y, and has taught master ballet classes at Hunter College. She currently serves on Hunter's Dance Advisory Board. In addition, Watts taught academic courses in 2006 and 2007 on Balanchine's life and work at Harvard University as a Visiting Lecturer. For her work at Harvard, Watts received two Derek Bok awards for distinguished teaching.

In January 2012, Watts received a Doctorate in Fine Arts honoris causa from Hunter College.[2]

Letters from Yelena

Letters from Yelena (2012) was the second ‘breakthrough’ novel by English writer Guy Mankowski.

Mila Kunis

Milena Markovna "Mila" Kunis (; Ukrainian: Мілена Марківна Куніс; born August 14, 1983) is an American actress. In 1991, at the age of seven, she moved from Soviet Ukraine to the United States with her family. After being enrolled in acting classes as an after-school activity, she was soon discovered by an agent. She appeared in several television series and commercials, before acquiring her first significant role at age 14, playing Jackie Burkhart on the television series That '70s Show (1998–2006). Since 1999, she has voiced Meg Griffin on the animated series Family Guy.

Kunis' breakout film role came in 2008, playing Rachel in the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. She gained further critical acclaim and accolades for her performance in the psychological thriller Black Swan (2010), for which she received the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor or Actress, and nominations for the SAG Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her other major films include the neo-noir action film Max Payne (2008), the post-apocalyptic action film The Book of Eli (2010), the romantic comedy film Friends with Benefits (2011), the comedy film Ted (2012), the fantasy film Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) as the Wicked Witch of the West, and the comedy film Bad Moms (2016).

Shifnal Festival 2011

The 2011 Shifnal Festival ran from Tuesday 13 September to Sunday 25 September.

The Black Swan (film)

The Black Swan is a 1942 American swashbuckler Technicolor film by Henry King, based on a novel by Rafael Sabatini, and starring Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara. It was nominated for a total of three Academy Awards, and won the award for Best Cinematography, Color.

This was the final film of silent star Helene Costello.

USA International Ballet Competition

The USA International Ballet Competition, or USA IBC, is one of the world's top competitions for ballet. Located in Jackson, Mississippi, this competition is attended by dancers from all over the world to represent their country for bronze, silver, or gold medals in a variety of categories of ballet in an Olympic-style competition.

Founded in 1978 by Thalia Mara, the first USA International Ballet Competition took place in 1979. This first competition was given sanction by the United Nations' International Dance Committee of UNESCO's International Theatre Institute.

In 1982, the United States Congress passed a Joint resolution designating Jackson, Mississippi, as the official home of the USA International Ballet Competition. Competitions occur every four years in Olympic style.

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