Beyonce dives in to synchronized swimming
Black is King is the incredible visual album by Beyonce, launched on Disney+ and excitingly
features a stunning aquatic scene full of synchronized swimmers with Beyonce herself dressed up in full synchronized swimming attire.
In the final scene of Black is King, Beyonce and her choreographer JaQuel Knight has a vision of a delightful Busby Berkeley number, full of dance and aquatic performers creating formations, in bright neon colours and an underwater piece with Queen B swimming through a dolphin chain circle of synchronized swimmers.
More importantly, and the biggest difference to the classic Hollywood aquatics musicals from the 30s, 40s and 50s, was that the majority of the aquatic performers Beyonce cast were black women. It was so refreshing to see!
Sadly, like many other industries, the world of aquatics, be it sport, entertainment or even the general lessons of learning how to swim, is still dominated by white people. Switch on the synchronized swimming (now known as artistic swimming) at the Olympic Games, which athletes go through a qualification process to compete at, how many of them are POC? Watch a film with a synchronized swimming or a water ballet scene in and how many feature black performers? A huge stumbling block is how very few BAME children as well as adults have easy access and opportunities to learn to swim. Even in 2022, it is still very few.
In the US you can trace this back to segregation laws and culture in most areas of the country. Swimming really took off in the US within two main periods – the 1920’s and 30s as well as the 50’S and 60s. During the first period, many new pools were built but POC were denied access to them. In the latter period, the municipal pools were abandoned, and white people took to swimming at expensive private members clubs, not only in areas where only white people could live but financially also making them inaccessible to POC.
After the civil rights riots in the 60s, many cities started building pools in predominately black areas, but they were small and shallow. Swimming never became a part of African-American recreational culture.
A pivotal moment:The scene in Beyoncé’s Black is King with black synchronized swimmers performing together to the track ‘Mood 4 Eva’ is hugely momentous. One social media message that really summed it up was from Gretchen A Campbell who said “the way I squealed when I saw all brown girls doing this synchronized swimming routine. I’ve always loved synchronized swimming but I’ve never seen anyone that looked like me doing it.”
You can see for yourself how incredible Black is King is and refreshing to watch a whole group of synchronized swimmers from the black community perform with Beyonce, who of course slayed it with her own inner aquatic goddess in the water. You can watch the trailer for Black is King here.
As like many of Beyoncé’s videos, Black is King is also a great moment for women supporting women, which was also a big factor on this shoot with a collaboration of synchronized swimmers from various clubs and companies working together. An open casting was held by Annisa Williams, with synchronized swimmers from all over the US contacted to submit their profiles. Beyonce wanted to feature black synchronized swimmers, which production unfortunately struggled to find the numbers they needed in the US. It was a two day shoot in Beverly Hills, with Beyonce turning up on day two to perform her aquatic star moment. Synchronized swimmers from Portland and also Port Antonio – Island Aquatic Synchro Jamaica were invited and flown to LA, including 8 year old Micah to perform along side several other synchronized swimmers featuring our very own Aquabatix USA performers. An aquatic choreographer helped Beyonce and JaQuel bring their vision to life with the specific water formations. Jamaican synchro said “so empowering for people of colour”. Nicole Chin Shue from the Jamaican team also got to meet Beyonce and say thank you. Beyonce replied that she understood the challenges of being a person of colour in the industry to make a living, but we should never give up. “ Beyonce then went on to say “’I’m so proud of you and so proud of the work that you guys are doing, and you guys are going to inspire so many little girls. Continue doing what you’re doing. Girls from all over the world are here to do this project.” Follow the Jamaican team on their quest for Olympic qualification on Instagram @jamaica_synchro along with the group @blackswans_synchro
A hugely important moment where so many black children and adults will see these synchronized swimmers on the screen, be inspired and empowered to have a go. Being shown on Disney Plus and also featuring the synchronized swimming in the trailer on Beyoncé’s social media with 152 million followers, the synchronized swimming will be seen by millions of people. That is millions of children as well as adults from the BAME community seeing people like them performing in water with Beyonce too.
I-D reported in their article on the ten important things you missed whilst watching Black is King that “there aren’t a whole lot of Black people involved in the world of competitive synchronised swimming, so when Beyoncé chose to spotlight a group of Jamaicans in the sport, she celebrated the underrepresented as well as the extraordinary.“ Vogue stated to “look out for the epic synchronized swimming sequence” whilst Cosmopolitan said “The trailer started with the coolest synchronized swimming formation you’ve ever seen”.
This is hopefully the beginning of a movement of inspiring a new generation of black children to dance in water, like their role models in this video and to show POC of all ages, that they can be glamorous water Queens and Kings. You can read here how Aquabatix is supporting this venture
For all Aquabatix USA inquiries, please email email@example.com
Synchronized swimming in Palm Springs at Sinatra’s? Yes we’re in! Frank Sinatra’s house, otherwise known as Twin Palms, in Palm Springs has an iconic piano shaped pool. This makes it such a perfect venue for our aquatic style of entertainment.
Sinatra lived in Twin Palms from 1947-1954 and went on to sell it in 1957. Today the property, which is named after the two tall standing palm trees next to the property, is hired out for events and parties and when the opportunity arose to perform our synchronized swimming entertainment at a wedding with Roey Mizrahi Events and LA Follies, we jumped at the chance!
Of course, the only music suitable to perform to at Frank’s house is a Sinatra’s classic. Aquabatix USA created a bespoke routine for the event to the well known movie track Cheek to Cheek, written by Irving Berlin for the Astaire and Rogers movie Top Hat but recorded by Frank Sinatra for his 1959 album ‘Come Dance With Me!’
The Aquabatix USA synchronized swimmers dressed in classic black vintage style swimsuits by Seafolly and 1950’s swim caps, They dived into the pool during a beautiful desert sunset and performed the classic routine to the delight of the wedding guests who were standing around the pool in the beautiful evening sunshine. Synchronized swimming in Palm Springs certainly adds some glamour to the event.
Aquabatix USA perform synchronised swimming entertainment and water shows in Palm Springs, Indian Wells, and all over Southern California. To hire this talented group of performers, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Bala x Aquabatix LA swimming models:
Bala, the funky and exclusive functional fitness brand approached Aquabatix USA synchronized swimming team in Los Angeles, to collaborate on a photo shoot together to promote their Bala bangles and the power ring. Our Aquabatix USA team make for the perfect LA swimming models.
Bala was created in 2018 by company founders and husband and wife team Natalie and Max. They developed the Bala bangle and the stylish weighted bands that amplify the benefits of most daily routines. Bala believe in beautiful, functional fitness accessories will change the way people move, because life includes exercise but is not exclusively defined by it.
The Aquabatix USA swimmers were enthralled by the product and made a splash into the glistening Pink Hollywood Regency Mid Century Vintage House pool to model the Bala bangles and power ring with innovative poses in the water individually and collectively together as a team of synchronized swimmers.
Aquabatix USA synchronized swimmers have featured in several campaigns, modelling in and underwater, as they make for the perfect models in water. Adding another eye capturing dimension, the Aquabatix USA synchronized swimmers all put on a pair of pink high heels. The photo shoot, styled by Bala brand ambassador Erica Holloway and captured in the make up by Carly Fisher, and by photographer Sarah Pardini, had a great 80s feel to it. The swimmers, Inga, Rachel, Joannie and Miriam posed in, above and under the water. Aquabatix USA co-ordinator Val Williams was on hand to help create formations and get the swimmers into symmetrical formations.
To enquire about Aquabatix swimmers modelling in your next aquatic campaign, contact us on email@example.com
Synchronized swimming featured in Intel campaign:
Intel featured synchronized swimming in its new campaign ‘Behind The Brains’ to visualise synchronous and asynchronous movement using Aquabatix synchronized swimmers to demonstrate various moves and formations. The brief was to make this visually captivating and digestible for a mass audience and the creative team at ASL Productions, who were behind the underwater production, realised it would be perfectly explained by synchronized swimmers with their grace in formations and their artistic ability with individual movement. Intel are on the verge of making big breakthroughs in neuromorphic and quantum computing and wanted video content to explain and promote these leaps in computing science. The creative team scouted for synchronized swimming teams both in Portland and LA where they came across the Aquabatix USA Los Angeles synchronized swimming entertainment group and “came to conclusion that the best team for this shoot was in LA”. Aquabatix USA synchronized swimmers and choreographers are hugely experienced in synchronized swimming for productions and underwater movement making it an easier journey for the Director and production when filming in water creates so many other technical difficulties and concerns. The director met with top Aquabatix synchronized swimming choreographer Valerie Williams to discuss the vision and requirements and to make sure the synchronised swimmers could deliver what they needed with Valerie helping to create the ideas within the brief. ASL Productions stated that “our director was confident they could meet his vision and we hired them”.
The team used an underwater camera rig from Hydraflex with an ARRI Alexa Mini camera to capture the motion of the synchronized swimmers. Slow motion was a big aspect of the shoot to highlight the movement. “The footage looked unbelievable as we took the Mini in and out of slow motion while our swimmers contorted their bodies in and out of unison during their routines and freestyle portions of our shoot”. Valerie choreographed synchronised formations performed by the Los Angeles based synchronized swimmers to represent a metaphor for traditional computing, each move dictated by the previous action. The individual improvised solo moves, developed by Aquabatix synchronized swimming choreographer Val Williams, represented neuromorphic computing as each move was instinctive and only made based of intuition and the action around them.
The outcome of the footage looks incredible. Intel, the client was “unbelievably satisfied with the footage captured”. Watch the full video here.
Contact Aquabatix USA today if you require top synchronized swimmers and choreographers for your next filming production or advertising requirement