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Black Swan

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-Image credit: Black Swan, 2010

With spooky movie season upon us, I decided it was time to watch a few creature features that highlight incredible achievements in movie costuming and visual effects. Kicking things off is the psycho-sexual horror film Black Swan (Disc/Download), which includes some truly disturbing imagery and themes. If you have a phobia about fingernails, cracking bones, and peeling cuticles, YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

Not to be confused with my other favorite ballet movie Center Stage, Black Swan showcases the gritty, violent world of New York City dancers, swapping out cute scenes of first dates and salsa moves with bloody appendages and ecstasy-fueled club nights. Peter Gallagher’s artistic director has been replaced with a sexy, sadistic Vincent Cassell, who pits Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis against one another to achieve his goal of finding the perfect dancer to embody both the Black and White swans in a new production of Swan Lake. As the angelic Nina (Portman) descends deeper into the dark world of the Black Swan, we see her lose her grip on reality as this search for perfection leads to loss of control. With hallucinatory tricks such as feathers sprouting from beneath her skin and a doppelgänger dancer in the mirror, the viewer starts to lose their own sense of reality right along with her.

For a dark movie like this, I need a dark, booze-forward drink to calm my nerves. Play up that Black Swan energy this week with this variation on a Black Feather cocktail.

Black Feather

2 oz Brandy

1 oz Lillet Blanc

1/2 oz Cointreau

Dash of Angostura Bitters

Lemon Twist

Combine Brandy, Lillet, Cointreau, and bitters in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Although I find myself covering my eyes any time Nina starts to pick at a patch of her skin (I can’t handle the cuticle ripping!!!!!), I can also relate to the debilitating way perfectionism tends to manifest itself. If true greatness can only be achieved through the loss of control, well, I guess I need to chill out with a few more cocktails. Cheers!

Center Stage

Center Stage

Image credit: Center Stage, 2000

Ballet is having a moment. With recent books like Girl Through Glass and Astonish Me, as well as last year’s fabulous mini-series Flesh and Bone, this gorgeous art form is back in our consciousness. Sure, I could watch Black Swan and ooh and ah over the drama, the otherworldly bodies, and the sheer intensity of ballet. But what’s the fun in that? I’d rather watch Center Stage (DVD/Download), a campy teen-romance that doesn’t skimp on the shirtless guys in tights, or the so-bad-it’s-good acting. Ballet for the people, indeed.

Sure, there are some “serious issues” in Center Stage, such as eating disorders, body shaming, and disgusting feet. But all of this is balanced out by fabulously gay Erik O. Jones (O after Oprah), feisty, gum-chewing ballerina with attitude Eva Rodriguez (played by Zoe Saldana), and ballet badboy Cooper Nielson, who rides a motorcycle and dances with (gasp!) Broadway-types. And let’s not forget Maureen’s mom, part of that most frantic breed of stage moms, who utters the phrase “Why, why, WHY in God’s name WHY??!” with all the passion of a Douglas Sirk heroine. The dancing in this movie is actually quite good, as is the choreography. But what makes this a guilty pleasure for me is watching actual ballet dancers attempt serious acting. Oh, bless their hearts.

What do ballet dancers do when they want to cut loose? Head downtown for some margaritas and salsa dancing apparently. You would think since ballerinas are all of 90 pounds they would have some common sense when it comes to alcohol tolerance, but you would be wrong. Luckily, I personally don’t have this problem (something to be said for eating a cheeseburger once in awhile). While watching Center Stage, I recommend drinking a Skinny Margarita.

Skinny Margarita

1.5 oz Gold Tequila

2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice

1.5 oz lite orange juice (I used Trop 50)

1/2 tablespoon agave nectar

Coarse sea salt

First, rim a glass with sea salt and fill with ice. Then add all liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into prepared glass.

Skinny Margarita

Like Jodi Sawyer, this drink is sweet and salty, and will help you maintain a ballerina’s physique. Okay, maybe that last part isn’t exactly true, but it’s not too bad on the calorie count. I will never actually be as skinny as a ballerina, but that’s okay. I prefer cocktails to turnouts. Cheers!