SWAN LAKE BATH BALLET | DANCE
It’s been like hanging a picture blindfolded, a mile away
Royal Ballet (with whom Baker has a long relationship) and the Royal New Zealand Ballet, where Baker is choreographer in residence. Some used bathtubs placed outside, some dyed their bathwater bright colours, and one even made use of the feathers from 20 pillows. Baker says: “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 departments, not to mention performing tricky choreography at the same time – all from their bathtubs.” WORKING FROM HOME 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 team combined innovative
For the camera work, Daley directed the entire piece without any other crew, working solely with the dancers around the world to shoot the piece. Completed over Zoom using a variety of phones, Daley checked in with the performers throughout the day to find the perfect lighting for each bathroom. She then provided camera direction to create the shots, using Filmic Pro on each phone to ensure colour balance, frame rates and other technical data matched between devices. GREEN FOCUS In addition to Swan Lake Bath Ballet , Baker also worked on two other performance pieces, both with a focus on the environment and climate change. Spaghetti Junction was filmed beneath Birmingham’s (in)famous motorway intersection with dancers from Birmingham Royal Ballet and Hong Kong Ballet, and Lying Together with Hong Kong Ballet was filmed on location using contrasting rural green spaces and urban skyscrapers. These short films were shown on BBC Culture in Quarantine for World Earth Day and World Environment Day respectively. SWAN LAKE BATH BALLET WAS COMMISSIONED BY ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND AND BBC ARTS AS PART OF CULTURE IN QUARANTINE
technological solutions such as the Filmic Pro app and Zoom to make the film remotely. To create tripods and stabilise the camera angles from their phones, the dancers had to resort to inventive solutions made from household items including a child’s scooter, and even a toilet plunger. The dancers filmed themselves – sometimes assisted by their housemates or partners – and were all directed by Baker and Daley from their bathrooms in the UK. Baker choreographed the piece in his own bathroom, after realising that practising in his kitchen meant he was developing dances that were impossible for the professionals to recreate in the confines of their bathtubs. He describes the process as “like hanging a picture blindfolded, a mile away”.
IMAGES Dancers dyed their bathwater and pulled feathers from pillows for their performances
SEPTEMBER 2020 | DEF I N I T ION 33
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