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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011 6 years ago

The Observer interviews American Ballet Theatre soloist Sarah Lane

by: Loren Mayo Black Tie Editor

If Sarah Lane looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve watched this prima ballerina dance both parts of the fragile white swan and her evil twin, the black swan, as Natalie Portman’s double in the 2010 feature film, “Black Swan.”

Lane, a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre, in New York, will join Artistic Director José Manuel Carreño in the Carreño Dance Festival this month, at the Sarasota Opera House.

Last week, while on vacation in Spain with her husband, Luis Ribagorda, Lane agreed to an email Q&A with The Observer.

What kind of little girl were you?
“I was definitely a very girly girl. I loved my Barbies, doing my hair, dressing up, singing and writing poems. I liked to play ‘house’ with my two little brothers and I usually tortured them by dressing them up. I loved my cat, M&M, and, of course, she got dressed up once in a while, too.

Did you grow up prancing around in a tutu or were you more of a tom girl? “Yes, I loved to dance around, tutu or not. I would drive my mom crazy by twirling around the kitchen while she was trying to cook.”

Where did you grow up?
“We lived in the country outside of Memphis, though, so I didn’t mind getting dirty. I liked to pretend to cook with grass, flowers and mud. Our neighbor was a real cowboy so we got to go horseback riding.”

What dancers did you idolize as a girl?
“Only my teachers and classmates, because I didn’t go to see my first professional full-length ballet until I was 16. Then, I went with a friend and her family to see Amanda McKerrow in ‘Giselle,’ at the Met. That’s the first moment that I was inspired to dance at American Ballet Theatre.”

Do you have any dancing superstitions or rituals?
“Well, I have my faith, which conquers any silly superstitions. I grew up in a Christian family and it’s always been a very important part of who I am. As for rituals, I guess all professional dancers have their own process to prepare for a show. We know when to sew and break in our shoes, do our hair/makeup, stretch, warm up, put on our costume, go over choreography and rosin our shoes. I like to listen to music while I get ready. Having that consistency helps to feel calm and focused.”

What music do you listen to before performing?
“I like U2, Coldplay, Linkin Park, One Republic, Casting Crowns, Mercy Me, Jeremy Camp, Natalie Grant, Crystal Lewis — I like everything. I like to mix it up because I get bored.”

Is the life of a ballerina realistically portrayed in the movie “Black Swan?”
“No. There are some things that do exist, but in the movie they are completely extreme and ridiculous. Those things happen in many other professions, as well. The dancers that have endured to become professionals and have long careers are smart, healthy and love what they do. We enjoy to create beauty and emotion. That is ballet — and it wasn’t portrayed at all in ‘Black Swan.’”

How did you land the Portman dance double job?
“The casting people or one of the costume ladies saw me in class at ABT. The director and producer asked to be introduced to me after a performance.”

Have you ever “dance doubled” in any other films?

What are your favorite ballets/roles?
“My favorite is Macmillan’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ I love ‘Giselle,’ too. I, also, love many Jiri Kylian works.”

What is your favorite dance movie?
“I’m not a huge fan of the dance movies that have been made, but I have friends in ‘Center Stage.’ ‘White Nights’ and ‘Mao’s Last Dancer’ were very good.”

If you weren’t a dancer, what career would you have chosen?
“Writer? Physical Therapist? No idea, really!”

You’ll be heading to Sarasota this month for the Carreno Dance Festival, at the Sarasota Opera House. How did you get involved?
Jose (Manuel Carreno, artistic director) asked me to be a part of his summer program.

Are you close with Jose?
“We have danced together several times and it’s always been a treat. He is such a great partner. He makes all the steps feel so much easier. He has a wonderful personality and energy onstage to connect with. Such an artist is rare to none.”

What dances will you be doing?
“I am doing White Swan pas de deux with Joaquin De Luz (principal dancer with New York City Ballet) and Black Swan pas de deux with Jose.”

Have you ever been to Sarasota?
“I believe once when I was in ABT Studio Company and once to do a Nutcracker.”

Will you have any time to sight see while you’re here?
“I guess we’ll see. I’ve been traveling a lot, so I’m pretty content just being there, teaching and dancing. I think that my husband, (name TK) corps de ballet dancer in ABT, will accompany me. He is friends with Jose as well.”

Is there something you’ve been looking forward to doing once you arrive?
“Enjoying the nice weather and time out of the crazy city. Other than that, I’m open to suggestions ☺.”

WHAT: The Carreño Dance Festival and Summer Intensive programs
WHEN: Summer Intensive programs are currently being held at the Sarasota Opera House. “Festival of the Stars” final performance takes place at 5 p.m. Aug. 27.
COST: Summer intensive per-session admission passes start at $10; four sessions are $36. Final performance tickets range from $15 to $50.
INFO: 328-1300 or

What’s in your ballet bag?
Extra shoes, lamb’s wool, bunion spacers, leg warmers, Thera-Band, foot roller, massage ball, bobby pins, sewing stuff (needle, floss, extra ribbons, elastic and scissors), iPhone, gum, a snack and perfume.


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