Watch: Boston Ballet and Boston Pops collaborate on ‘quarantine-friendly’ ‘Swan Lake’ performance

The two local institutions joined forces in a digital performance from the famous Tchaikovsky ballet.

Performers from the Boston Pops Orchestra and Boston Ballet collaborated on a performance from "Swan Lake." Courtesy

Dancers from Boston Ballet and musicians from the Boston Pops Orchestra have collaborated on a socially-distant rendition of “White Swan” from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” shared online Wednesday.

In the performance, a harpist and a violinist remotely accompany two ballet dancers as they execute intricate choreography in a Jamaica Plain apartment.

The piece begins with Derek Dunn alone in the apartment’s kitchen as the white swan Odette. He soon floats into the living room and joins his real-life partner Paulo Arrais performing as Prince Siegfried for a romantic duet. Arrais choreographed the performance, and both he and Dunn are principal dancers for Boston Ballet.


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The home belongs to Ballet soloist Isaac Akiba, who also filmed the performance on his phone. The video opens with a sweeping vista of the sky shot by Arrais from the roof before he delicately transfers the phone to Akiba, who is hiding and crouching beneath the window. Akiba said the opening shot emulates a swan flying into the ad-hoc dance studio.

He said the final duet took about eight takes to get right.

“The cat happened to be in the window for the shot we were happy with,” Akiba wrote in an e-mail. “On that side of my house, squirrels are usually running across my water drains, so he was keeping a look out.”

The musical accompaniment is by harpist Jessica Zhou and assistant concertmaster Elita Kang, who pitched the collaboration to Arrais.

“I’ve been a ballet lover since childhood, so the prospect of being able to collaborate with dancers, even remotely, is a dream come true for me,” Kang said in a statement.


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