Lithuania’s locked-down ballet and opera take to TikTok

A Lithuanian national opera and ballet dancer performs for TikTok videos, after performances were cancelled due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) quarantine in Vilnius, Lithuania, February 18, 2021. Martynas Aleksa/ Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theater /Handout via REUTERS

By Andrius Sytas

Lithuania’s national opera and ballet theatre has turned to TikTok to reach audiences during lockdown, attracting millions of views to a performance of a sea shanty by its singers.

The 59-second clip, featuring singers performing in the opera foyer, was watched 2.4 million times on the social network site since it was posted on Feb. 7.

“Our secret is simple – we got lucky,” said Gediminas Seduikis, a director at the theatre.

“We fired an email to all our singers with the idea, and some of them showed up at the agreed time to sing,” said Seduikis. “That someone else liked the result is pure luck.”

All public performances at the theatre have been cancelled since October, amid a lockdown designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the nation of 2.7 million people.

The theatre, which usually gets about 150,000 visitors per year, wants to extend its lucky streak.

On Thursday, five ballerinas in tutus danced on the main national opera stage in front of around 1,000 empty seats, filming a TikTok “silhouette” video which involved dancing through five standalone door frames.

“Our advantage is that we can do simple things of very high quality. Many similar TikTok videos are filmed in a toilet. And here we are, on a national opera stage, with five megastar ballerinas, 60 kilowatts of lighting and all the professional staff,” said Seduikis.

The towering stage backdrop was draped in white cloth which was then illuminated in different colours from lights above.

Seduikis filmed 10 takes of the dance performance, consulting with a choreographer who guided the dancers.

“It’s opera competing against ballet. Everyone can’t wait to see who gets more views,” said Jonas Sakalauskas, general manager of the theatre.


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