Dance filmed in -16 °C weather in Antarctica for ground-breaking digital dance project on climate change

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Today is World Environment Day (5 June) and Arts Council England has announced an investment of almost £90,000 in a ground-breaking dance-film project, inspired by Antarctica and climate change.

Corey Baker’s Antarctica: The First Dance will receive an £89,004 National Lottery grant as part of Arts Council’s Grants for the Arts scheme to showcase and tour the first ever dance film made in the Antarctic wilderness.

Birmingham-based, New Zealand-born Baker, whose previous commissions have seen him take dance outside of theatres and into unusual spaces, was compelled by climate change and a boyhood fascination for Antarctica, to travel to the Southern-most continent of the world for his latest project.

Antarctica: The First Dance premiered on Earth Day, 22 April. It is inspired by the austere beauty and fragility of the ice and snow structures and to date, the piece has reached almost a half million people online.

The contemporary ballet featured in the film is performed by Madeleine Graham, star of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Two years in the planning, Baker, Graham and director of photography Jacob Bryant danced and filmed in temperatures ranging from -2.4 to -16 °C for 12 days in February.

The Arts Council funding will support the creation and tour of live material, complemented by the dance film, a 360 virtual reality immersive experience of Antarctic locations, and a documentary about the entire Antarctica residency.

There will be a live dance performance created in Birmingham, and Antarctica Live will premiere at International Dance Festival Birmingham followed by a 26-show tour to Bradford’s National Science & Media Museum and London’s Science Museum.

Peter Knott, the Area director for Arts Council England, called this inspiring project a triumph for dance and digital media, which is really pushing the boundaries between performance and audience.

Choreographer Corey Baker said: “It is a world first; we have made history with this project, which is incredible.” I am passionate about three things: making dance for spaces that are not theatres; campaigning for climate justice; and now Antarctica, which, as a New Zealander myself, has always been a magical and somewhat mystical place to me.”

The film was first screened as part of the Earth Day celebrations at Somerset House, London on 22 April, and is now available to watch and share online. Check it out!