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© Cassam Looch/Culture Trip
© Cassam Looch/Culture Trip

How the Spectacular 'Shape of Water' BAFTA Opening Was Put Together

Picture of Cassam Looch
Film Editor
Updated: 19 February 2018

One of the highlights of the recent BAFTA ceremony was the spectacular opening sequence by Cirque du Soleil. The breathtaking performance was themed to Guillermo del Toro’s fairytale romance The Shape of Water, and we take a closer look at how it was put together. 

71st British Academy Film Awards, Show, Royal Albert Hall, London, UK - 18 Feb 2018

© Cirque du Soleil

We were in attendance from the ceremony itself, and even from our lofty vantage point in the rafters of The Royal Albert Hall, we could tell that the performance went down a storm. In the distance we spotted the director of The Shape of Water as well as star Sally Hawkins applauding the dramatically choreographed routine.

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Cirque du Soleil are currently in residence at the venue with their high-flying show OVO, and in the video below they have documented how the daring routine was put together. The Royal Albert Hall auditorium – not a small space by any stretch of the imagination and crammed with A-list stars from around the world for the biggest night in the British film calendar – was utterly transfixed by the two characters flying above.

The performance was an adaptation of the aerial straps act from OVO, which sees two beautiful butterflies fly high inside the Royal Albert Hall. An elegant act filled with stunning twists, turns and acrobatic magic, it was performed by Catherine Audy and Alexis Trudel, who took on the roles of Elisa Esposito, played by Hawkins in the movie, and the Amphibian Man.

The newly created costumes were made especially for EE British Academy Film Awards by Susan Judd, and the body art and make up by Mona Turnbull.

71st British Academy Film Awards, Show, Royal Albert Hall, London, UK - 18 Feb 2018

© Cirque du Soleil

The reactions say it all!

OVO, meaning ‘egg’ in Portuguese, is a headlong rush into a colourful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement. The show is on at the Royal Albert Hall until March 4 and features over 50 performers from 17 countries around the world.

Tickets are on sale now for Cirque du Soleil and can be bought via the official website or Alternatively, you can book them by phoning 020 7589 8212.

Tickets for the UK arena tour are also on sale now and can be bought via the Cirque du Soleil website or at