Swan Lake becomes a bathtub ballet

Published: 10 July 2020
Reporter: Vera Liber

Viktorina Kapitonova in SLBB Credit: Ryan Capstick
Viktorina Kapitonova in SLBB Credit: Ryan Capstick
Viktorina Kapitonova in SLBB Credit: Ryan Capstick
Donnie Duncan in SLBB Credit: Marne van Opstal
Benjamin Freemantle in SLBB Credit: Madison Keesler

Ballet dancers perform from their bathtubs all over the world in Swan Lake Bath Ballet film by Corey Baker, available on BBC iPlayer as part of BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine.

Set to Tchaikovsky's famous swan theme, 27 ballet dancers from renowned dance companies perform Baker’s choreography in baths from New Zealand to South Africa, America to Hong Kong, Australia to the UK, filmed on smartphones and directed by Baker from his bathroom in the UK.

Baker worked with long-time collaborator producer Anne Beresford as well as director of photography Nicola Daley ACS, editor Travis Moore and line producer Guy Trevellyan.

The performers were drawn from companies including American Ballet Theatre, Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Staatsballett Berlin, National Ballet of Canada, Dutch National Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet (with whom Baker has had a long relationship) and The Royal New Zealand Ballet, where Baker is Choreographer in Residence.

Baker said of the experience, "it was like trying to hang a picture with your eyes closed from five miles away," adding, "I am hugely indebted to the amazing 27 dancers and all the companies who really pulled the stops (plugs?) out to make this film happen. Dancers became camera operators, stage managers, as well as costume and prop department not to mention performing tricky choreography at the same time, all from their bath tubs."

This was the first of three dance films with a ‘green’ focus, the other two being Spaghetti Junction with dancers from Birmingham Royal Ballet and Hong Kong Ballet filmed beneath Birmingham’s (in)famous motorway intersection and Lying Together with Hong Kong Ballet, filmed on location in rural and urban green spaces across Hong Kong.

Both Spaghetti Junction and Lying Together were shown on BBC Culture in Quarantine in May and June 2020 for World Earth Day and World Environment Day respectively.