BBC released today the lockdown interpretation of the Swan Lake Ballet, performed by 27 elite ballet dancers from their own home baths, filmed on smartphones, and directed from a bathroom.
When the BBC challenged award-winning choreographer-director Corey Baker to make a modern day interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, with a re-imagined new choreography for 27 of the world’s elite ballet dancers, the theme of the Swan Lake Bath Ballet became a trending news topic featured in international media including the Guardian, Broadway News and across social media.
been sitting on my toilet seat(directors chair) for the past few months in lock down making… #SwanLakeBathBallet (out now on @BBCiPlayer @BBCarts) 27 elite dancers across the globe perform from their home filled bath tubs a modern-day Swan Lake made remotely during #Covid19. pic.twitter.com/pKIJOkbfq4
— Corey Baker Dance (@CoreyBakerDance) July 8, 2020
Award-winning choreographer Corey Baker worked with dancers from renowned dance companies across the globe to choreograph and film Swan Lake Bath Ballet completely remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic. Set to Tchaikovsky’s famous swan theme, 27 elite ballet perform a modern-day Swan Lake from their own home (filled) baths. Swan Lake Bath Ballet is iconic in movement, epic in music, and fun, thanks to its setting; a memorable project made during Covid-19 that makes a huge splash. It’s a clear sign that no pandemic stops creativity!
In the film, Baker’s quirky choreography is performed in baths from New Zealand to South Africa, America to Hong Kong, Australia to the UK. Swan Lake Bath Ballet was filmed on smartphones, directed by Baker from his own bathroom in the UK. Embracing and extending technology is at the heart of the film – as vital a part as the amazing dancers, unique choreography and the glorious bathtubs themselves. FiLMiC Pro, Zoom and TeamViewer were combined with human ingenuity, a range of inventive home-made rigs, bath bombs and over 20 feather pillows to create a unique new Swan Lake.
Filmed in bathrooms, directed from one
Let’s highlight this aspect again: the three minute short film Swan Lake Bath Ballet was made with the entire team (dancers, director, producers and editors) working remotely. Dancers found innovative solutions including a child’s scooter, piles of books and even a toilet plunger to help stabilize and enable camera angles. The Swan Lake Bath Ballet is now available to watch on BBC, where it will be exclusively shown for 14 days. After that the film will also be be uploaded on Corey Baker Dance YouTube and on all CBD social media platforms, from where all the partners, including including FiLMiC Pro, will share the film.
The story does not end here, though. I believe the first thing one asks when watching the short film is “how did they do it?” Well, the project also includes a look behind the scenes, with a short companion film that shares how Swan Lake Bath Ballet was made. The aptly named Behind the Sink (Scenes) will include rehearsals from the toilet seat, storyboarding via Zoom, teaching the dancers how to; dance in their baths, use FiLMiC Pro, frame up a shot and build homemade camera tripods from books, chairs, brooms and even a toilet plunger.
The key production team comprised of director-choreographer Corey Baker (Antarctica: The First Dance, Dancing On Icebergs, Lying Together) and director of photography Nicola Daley ASC (Pin Cushion, Harlots, just about to shoot the new Terence Davies feature film Benediction) along with line producer Guy Trevellyan (currently working with US auteur Wes Anderson).
Behind the Sink (Scenes)
The team recorded all the rehearsals, planning meetings, recces, filming and editing sessions. These include Director of Photography Nicola monitoring the moving South African sun from her English living room as the team remotely film in Cape Town and Corey supervising the fine details of choreography from his central London bathroom.
Behind the Sink (Scenes) will include breathtaking footage of previously unseen choreographic sequences (and mistakes) from the process and fun, eye-opening time-lapses of the production process. “It was like trying to hang a picture straight, blind folded and from 5 miles away” said Corey Baker. Behind the Sink (Scenes) will be a detailed, insightful, funny and uplifting film of how a small team, 27 dancers and one app created a Swan Lake for our times.
The combination of BBC, digital arts agency The Space and the impressive list of partners already committed to sharing the film (including Royal Albert Hall, BBC, Bloch, Lush, Youth American Grand Prix and the 27 renowned dance companies) means an anticipated viewership for both Swan Lake Bath Ballet and Behind the Sink (Scenes) of 10 million worldwide.