Lithuania’s Closed Ballet and Opera Perform on TikTok

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Pamina Yung, Staff Writer

In a nation of 2.7 million people, Lithuania’s National Opera and Ballet Theater (LNOBT) in Vilnius gets approximately 150,000 visitors a year. However, that statistic has drastically changed since all public performances were canceled starting in October 2020 due to COVID-19.

On Feb. 7, the company posted a minute-long show clip on the trendy social media app TikTok, gathering millions of views. In the video, a group of seven singers formed a magnificent choir and sang a sea shanty, a type of traditional folk song commonly accompanied by rhythmic labor aboard an argosy and often referred to as a chantey or maritime work song. 

“Our secret is simple—we got lucky,” said Gediminas Seduikis, a director at LNOBT. “We fired an email to all our singers with the idea, and some of them showed up at the agreed time to sing. That someone else liked the result is pure luck.”

Soon after the first video blew up, the theater recorded and posted another performance on Feb. 20, but this time, of its dancers.

The dance TikTok—slightly shorter than the sea shanty TikTok—presented an eye-catching thespian theme following the TikTok “silhouette” trend, with the dancers gliding on the floor of the opera house foyer with freestanding door frames lined in an array. Meanwhile, vibrant scarlet lighting created dramatic shadows of the ballerinas and their tutus. 

“Our advantage is that we can do simple things of very high quality,” said Seduikis. “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.” 

During quarantine, TikTok has become a platform for all kinds of occupations to showcase their skills and talents. The rising social media app has allowed dancers to make creative entertainment and establish a community that is immersive in art and shattering stereotypes. LNOBT has taken this to the next level.

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

 

Photo courtesy of REUTERS.COM