• Black Swan/White Swan

    Our own Eddie Ares had a bee in his bonnet about the movie Black Swan on Saturday.  He saw it as a metaphor for different types of people and how easy or difficult it is for a particular type to inhabit the character of a particular dance.  As he explained it, a black swan is a fearless and aggressive performer who will perform any kind of character with no hesitation.  A white swan might be very proficient at technique but is always holding back or maintaining boundaries.  As a result, something might be missing from the character of a dance. The audience might be able to perceive a whiff of self-restraint on the part of the dancer that reads as anxiety.  I remembered an offhand comment from one of Eddie’s dancers when I’d told her about a tough heat that we’d danced in competition.  I’d said that we struggled because Daniel forgot the steps but she said I was the one who looked worried.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true, because I’m a white swan all the way.  Daniel is a total black swan: no boundaries, never gets embarrassed, puts it all out there dialed up to 11.

    In Eddie’s philosophy (and I think this is true), black swans can easily pretend to be white swans but white swans have a hard time going over to the dark side. Some dances are easy for white swans like me to characterize because they come from a “happy” or “graceful” or “pretty” place: waltz, foxtrot, swing.  Tango and rumba are hard for white swans because they are more “dark” or “sexy.”  The only one I’m not sure about is cha-cha.  Maybe that’s part of the reason I never feel really proficient at cha-cha: I don’t entirely understand the character of that dance.  People define the cha-cha as “flirty” but I have little notion of how to express that quality.  I also haven’t sussed out why white swans can’t fake the black-swan qualities with 100% success.  It could be different for every swan.  The good news is that in ballroom, you always have two swans together who can balance each other’s shortcomings.  The raw energy of the black swan probably needs some reining in from the boundary-loving white.

    …Right?

    Confession: I have not yet seen Black Swan despite its being a ballet movie.  Normally I never miss a dance movie and especially not a ballet movie, but I have resisted Black Swan because I am hypersensitive to the type of visually freaky psychological horror that the movie involves.  That is, I have not seen Black Swan because I’m too much of a white swan.  I will probably cowboy-up and see it soon.  But maybe I’ll wait till it comes on pay-per-view and watch it in the daytime with the lights on.

3 Responsesso far.

  1. Jamie Wyatt says:

    I think I’m a Black Swan, too. It’s probably more of a personality thing (than a performance thing) that would be really hard to “fake” especially if you have any control issues, or if you worry about what other people think! I think most of the time if you just keep looking confident and relaxed, even when you mess up, it looks to most people (especially non-dancers), like you knew exactly what you were doing! It’s when people stop, look stunned, and otherwise freak out, that you notice a problem! I haven’t seen the movie yet, either, but I plan to “take a walk on the dark side” soon, and see it! Keep on dancing! L, J
    P.S.–I know you meant cowGIRL-up! LOL!

  2. Joyce Newman says:

    I think I am a Goose. Enjoyed the movie Black Swan. If you go,just remember that all the freaky things that happen are all in her paranoid and delusive mind. They are not really happening. It’s an interesting study of a compulsive and disturbed young woman.

  3. lauraet says:

    Jamie, it’s funny, I always say “cowboy up” because it sounds more mellifluous to me! I do agree with your understanding of black/white swans–it’s about personality rather than performance ability.

    Joyce: You are NOT a goose! That’s too funny! I think I could handle Black Swan perfectly well in book form–years ago I read Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho and did not turn a hair, but I wouldn’t see the movie on a bet. It’s the visual aspect that hits me so acutely. Which is weird, because in other ways the visual part of my brain is quite weak. You’d think I would be immune to freakouts delivered through the eyeballs.

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