Community Magazine

Black Swan

By Rubytuesday
I never sleep well on a Sunday night for a number of reasons so last night I was hunting through the house for Dvds to see me through the night as painless as possible
I was looking for something undemanding like a rom-com but then I stumbled across Black Swan
I have seen it before but it was in hospital so you can forgive me for giving it my full attention
I was hesitant as first to watch it for a couple of reasons
The number one being that I find it really hard to watch dancing
Not because it is triggering (although it can be)
But because I find it upsetting to watch others do what I wanted to and should have done
If things had gone differently in my life, I would have persued a career in dance
If not dancing itself, then teaching
So watching others do it makes me sad and envious and angry
I'd forgotten how good this film is
I'm sure most of you have seen it but if not Black Swan is a dark psychological thriller directed by Darren Aronofsky
The plot revolves around a production of Tchaikovsk's Swan Lake ballet by a prestigious New York company
The production requires the chosen ballerina to preform the role of the innocent and fragile White Swan, for which the committed dancer Nina is a perfect fit, as well as the dark and sensual Black Swan, which are qualities embodies by new arrival Lily
Nina puts massive pressure on herself to compete for the role and her quest for perfection which ultimately causes her to lose her tenuous grip on reality and her dream begins to turn in to a living nightmare
Black Swan
As the pressure on Nina mounts, she begins to hallucinate and she also self harms
When I saw the scene of her feet either side of of a toilet bowl I figure that she bulimia also
I can't think of any other reason why they would show that
Nina is haunted by Lily who she thinks is trying to replace her
The night before her debut performance, Lily takes Nina out drinking and gives her pills
Later we see them having sex but when Nina wakes up in the morning Lily has vanished
Nina descends in to a world where she can't distinguish what is real
She is terrified but determined to perform than night
During the performance she hallucinates during a life and falls
In her dressing room comes to tell that she will be dancing the rest of the performance
Nina cracks and shoves her in to  a mirror, smashing it
She stabs Lily with a shard of glass
Panicking, she hides Lily's body in the bathroom and continues with the show
At last she manages to conquer the character of the Black Swan and she finishes the first act to thunderous applause
But by this stage she seems to have completely lost her grip on reality
Black Swan
She goes back to her dressing room to check on Lily but when she gets there the body is gone and Lily seems to be fine
She looks down and realises that the shard of glass was actually in her
She had stabbed herself
Somehow she finishes the performance
At the end, when the Swan commits suicide, Nina jumps from the platform on to a mattress
Her last words were 'I felt it. Perfect. I was perfect'
I thought this film was darkly beautiful
Natalie Portman was utterly stunning as Nina and thoroughly deserved the Oscar that year
Her dancing was mesmerising
She did take ballet as a child and underwent a year of intensive training to prepare for the role of Nina
She did have a dance double though, an ABT dancer called Sarah Lane
I though the portrayal of her losing her mind was done really well
It was subtle at first
You weren't quite sure if you saw what you thought you saw
The eyes in a picture moving
A distorted image in a mirror
And over time her world turns upside down
It was Nina's pursuit of perfection that was her downfall
I think many of us fall in the trap of trying to be perfect
The perfect daughter
The perfect sibling
The perfect friend
The perfect job
And of course the perfect body
Nina obviously had an eating disorder
When she is having her measurements taken, we see give a little smile when the lady tells her that she has lost weight
There is something about ballet that brings out a persons need to be perfect
I remember when I took ballet from the age of 10 - 16
Having to wear a leotard and tights there is no hiding your body
And in a room full of mirrors there is no getting away from having to look at your own body
I remember my ballet teacher telling my mother that I was losing weight
I had no idea why but that made me feel good
Maybe it was because I was fed the message that thinner is better
Maybe it was the attention and the concern
Whatever the reason it was a sign of things to come
I got a distinction in my first ballet exam
And after that I put pressure on myself to make sure that I always got no less than a distinction
Obviously I was no where near the league that Nina was dancing in but it was still a stress in my life
In my next two exams I got 2 more distinctions
But then in grade 5 I got a merit
I was devastated
I felt that I had failed
Fuel for my developing eating disorder
In grade 6 I began to lose interest in dancing
I was distracted by friends and boys and began to dabble in drugs
I remember the day  that I went to collect my exam results
There was 3 of us in the class and our teacher told us at the beginning of the class that 2 of us had passed with a merit and one had achieved a distinction
I was massively hung over and didn't really care what I had got
But it turned out that I had got the distinction
I gave up ballet soon after that
Something that I've always regretted
I've always had a perfectionist streak
It can be a good thing as it means you do things diligently and thoroughly
But it also means that you put huge pressure on yourself and are often very hard on yourself
As with my addiction and ED, it's an all or nothing game
Either be brilliant at something or don't do it at all
The mind is a fragile thing and will only take so much
It 's a terrifying feeling to feel like you are losing your mind
It happened to me just recently when I really thought that I was going mad
In reality it was a combination of lack of food and isolating
I went to my mother an told her that I was worried about myself
That I felt like I was going crazy and maybe needed to go in to hospital
She managed to appease me and calm me down
But it is always there in the back of my mind
The fear of losing touch with reality
Have you see Black Swan?
What did you think of it?

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