Black Swan - even the poster's stunningLast week was a real throwback to my dancing days, not only did I go to the ballet, but I also watched Black Swan the creepy ballet-based flick that’s been winning awards left right and centre.

I’ve heard that a lot of ballerinas have been upset by the portrayal of the ballet world.  While I take their point – it’s raunchy, visceral and more than a little bit gruesome – I can’t help but think that they missed the point.

From my – admittedly limited – dance experience it’s a creative world that can be as intense and insane behind the scenes as it is breathtaking and beautiful on it.

Ballet always takes a story and ramps it up a few notches:

The heroine isn’t just sad that her lover betrays her, she tears herself apart with the horror of it.  Every look and gesture is exaggerated to the nth degree.  Even the make up is caked on with a trowel so the audience can properly appreciate the artiste’s features.

So, if you’re going to focus on a world that’s already intense and melodramatic, an exaggerated version of that world will always be extreme.

I can’t help but think that Black Swan, the story of a ballerina who destroys herself to achieve perfection, is little more than how a ballet focussed on the world of ballet would play out.

Indeed,  famous ballet and film The Red Shoes tells the tale of a girl who dances herself to death – and it’s not a million miles away from the themes of Black Swan.

Natalie Portman in costume as the White Swan

I’ve often heard ballerinas talk of “Red Shoes Syndrome” - they literally can’t bring themselves to stop dancing, in spite of the pain and past the point of reason.

I loved Black Swan, and while so many of the little details took me back to my dancing days, I couldn’t help but feel relieved that I didn’t have what it takes to go that stage further and make a career of it.

From now on I’ll stick to easier exercise – like walking the Great Wall of China.  After my walk down memory lane, I can’t help but feel like my grand adventure’s going to be  a walk in the park!