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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Friday Film Break: Far From The Norm's "Can't Kill Us All"

While its doors remain closed, New York City's The Joyce Theater is bringing dance to a digital stage via JoyceStream. The fall programming kicked off on Tuesday with works by Ate9, CONTRA-TIEMPO, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater and Far From The Norm. Those videos will be available until October 19, and more will be announced shortly.

This piece, "Can't Kill Us All" from British hip-hop collective Farm From The Norm, is a collaboration between artistic director Botis Seva, filmmaker Ben Williams and composer Torben Lars Sylvest. Commissioned by The Space and BBC Arts, supported by Arts Council England and Sadler's Wells, the film follows a Black man dealing with both lockdown and the trauma of racism.