Ballet dancers already display seemingly effortless fluidity and grace—and when a dancer is freed from the constraints of gravity, the show can be…well, one that takes your breath away.
This is also the case at the Fairmont Orchid in Hawaii, which commissioned an underwater solo ballet from the renowned underwater artist Kristina Makushenko. This Miami-based dancer and freediver amassed nearly 10 million Instagram views for her sped-up version of Wednesday’s Addams Dance underwater with seemingly few respites, and you’ve probably already seen roles of her strutting upside down in high heels the bottom of the water surface. She is also a four-time world champion and two-time European champion in synchronized swimming.
For a limited engagement, she will perform an underwater ballet at Pauoa Bay in February. Paddle along the Kohala coast to the venue in a traditional Hawaiian canoe. There, you’ll enter the water on a floating platform where you can hold on while you snorkel and watch Makushenko perform. The Orchid built a custom underwater speaker to pump Makushenko’s music into the ocean so you can hear it just as clearly underwater as you can on the surface.
So how is Makushenko holding his breath for so long? She told Time Out: “Everyone thinks I’m breathing in and swimming all the way down with full air, which is wrong. I breathe in, then slowly exhale 80 percent of the air from my lungs as I descend, and when I only have 20 percent left, only then do I begin my underwater ballet dance. With this amount of air I can survive about 40-50 seconds underwater and then swim to the top. And while I’m afloat, I keep dancing, but on the surface of the water.”
Any other tricks of the trade? “I also want to mention that I don’t carry weights during the performance,” she said. “I’m just wearing a custom made costume and heels. I do all my performances in heels!”
The show costs $175, but that seems reasonable for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see such a performance firsthand. You do not have to be a hotel guest to attend this performance and “seats” are still available. The show dates are February 13th, 15th, 17th, 20th, 22nd and 24th. Only seven people fit on the floating stage, so get your tickets quickly! To get a teaser, here’s a YouTube clip of the experience.
And after the ballet (or instead – Pauola Bay is open to all) return to the bay to try your own ballet attempts, where the waters are calmed by walls of lava to break the waves and where conservation efforts have protected some of the healthiest coral reefs in Hawaii. You might even find dolphins and whales – and you’ll definitely see Honu (Hawaiian sea turtles) – to give you a Grand Jeté!