Viktorina Kapitonova in "Swan Lake Bath Ballet" (photo by Ryan Capstick, courtesy Corey Baker Dance)

Please Enjoy the Quarantine Genius of “Swan Lake Bath Ballet”

That old saying about limitations breeding creativity—hat tip to Orson Welles—has never felt more relevant than in these lockdown days. Here's the latest brilliant dance project born (hatched?) of quarantine restrictions: "Swan Lake Bath Ballet," a contemporary take on the classic featuring 27 A-list ballet dancers performing from their own bathtubs.


The BBC commissioned the project from choreographer Corey Baker. And while you might be imagining a lighthearted, soapy romp (full disclosure: that's what we pictured when we first heard about "Swan Lake Bath Ballet" back in May), the result has striking beauty and complexity, as well as some gentle splashstick humor.

Baker, the director of Corey Baker Dance and an alum of BalletBoyz, told The Guardian that he created the choreography in his own bathroom. He made special tutorial videos to help the film's impressive cast—including American Ballet Theatre's Skylar Brandt, The Royal Ballet's Meaghan Grace Hinkis, National Ballet of Canada's Jurgita Dronina, and Paris Opéra Ballet's Mathias Heymann—learn the tub-specific moves. The dancers then filmed themselves on their phones. Some of them performed in colored water; one filled his tub with feathers, harvested from 20 pillows. Producer Anne Beresford, director of photography Nicola Daley, editor Travis Moore, and line producer Guy Trevellyan used innovative tech solutions to make the results feel remarkably polished.

The filming process was "like trying to hang a picture with your eyes closed from 5 miles away," Baker said in a statement. He credits the gifted cast for making it all work: "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."

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020