A ballerina, whose pointe shoes are extended by a set of sharp kitchen knives, dances and twirls insistently until reaching exhaustion, fighting to maintain balance on the lid of a grand piano set on a stage. The theatre with its red velvet warm lighting, resembles an oversized music box. The camera turns around the dancer revealing the opposite side of the room: an empty and painfully bare theatre.
I did ballet for years. I’ve seen Black Swan and marveled and the intense concentration, dedication and, yes, severe anxiety and neurosis it brought out in Nina. I was lucky to never be plagued by those types of insecurities, but that ambivalence probably stemmed from the fact that I am short, chubby, and no one’s ideal body type for the perfect ballerina. I wasn’t going to win the race, so I thought just being involved was pretty cool.
Believe me when I say that watching this film is like watching the all the terrifying parts of the art of dance diluted down into something so painful and frightening to watch that I definitely had to turn away more than once. I’ve also watched it 5 or 6 times since first learning of its existence, though, and it never loses its sense of fear and urgency.