The world of ballet is notoriously relentless and competitive, and this is perfectly encapsulated by Amazon Prime’s new film Birds of Paradise.
Starring Diana Silvers and Kristine Froseth as dancers Kate Sanders and Marine Durand, it follows the pair as they compete to win the chance to join the Opéra national de Paris.
The film, which sits somewhere between Black Swan and Tiny Pretty Things, sees Kate and Marine’s friendship tested to the limits as they realise how far they’re willing to go for success.
In stark contrast, Silvers and Froseth are nothing short of gushing as they speak about each other to Newsweek, regularly complimenting the other and sharing how grateful they were to have the other’s support.
The three-month training schedule for Birds of Paradise was quite gruelling for the pair, especially given they had to perform every dance themselves and be as good as the professionals alongside them.
Reflecting on the process, Silvers said: “I played really competitive tennis for 10-11 years so dancing on this for me was a lot of correcting my body, unlearning certain muscles and re-learning new muscles.
“It was a lot of reshaping my entire physicality which was really hard to do in such a short amount of time, and I was so grateful that I had so much help.”
Froseth agreed with her co-star, and admitted she had a few struggles of her own: “I was just out of alignment for some reason, I guess because I’m [hunched] all the time on my phone… so I had to work on that. And co-ordination, I have none.
“I’ve never danced before so it was definitely challenging to get to know my body while also absorbing all the information regarding dance. I don’t know anything, it’s so much about opposition and I was having a hard time putting two-and-two together.”
Despite Froseth’s reservations about her own dancing skills, Silvers is quick to heap praise on her, saying she “killed it” and gave a “beautiful” performance.
The duo added that there were “many things” they found challenging, not least the physical strain they put on themselves.
Froseth said: “The physical aspects were really challenging. Being in the room with professional ballerinas and kind of accepting the reality of the situation that we’re trying to portray their lives, and their lifestyle, as closely as possible.”
Silvers added: “We were in Budapest which is quite far away and it was a little isolating, which I think kind of helped for the setting of the film.
“It was pretty challenging all around. At a certain point I felt I was no longer even Diana, I was Kate, and the only time I felt like I was not Kate was when I was with Kristine in the green room because she became this very grounding presence on set for me.”
Their shoot was cut short though because of the COVID pandemic, which brought a halt to production in March 2020, with just six days left to shoot.
They were only able to return in August that year, with Froseth admitting it was hard to take such a long break after being so focused on her character Marine.
This was something Silvers also had trouble with, and both actors spoke of their struggles with their mental health and body dysmorphia in the five months they were away from set.
“I was so scared I had gained weight, I was so afraid of that,” Silvers said. “I thought ‘oh I’m going to look bad’ and everyone was like ‘no, you’re perfect’ and I was like ‘no, I’m not’.
“That was really challenging, and not feeling like a dancer anymore and having to try and put everything back together.”
She added: “Sitting with that kind of material and character for such a long time was hard, and it made it harder to shed Kate’s skin off after the fact.”
Reflecting on her own mental health during the pandemic, Froseth said: “I don’t know if it’s body dysmorphia, but I struggled a lot with body and eating issues. It was such an emotional time in COVID for everyone.”
Froseth and Silvers made sure to support one other during the difficult period, with the former adding: “We’d talked throughout the entire time and I really leaned on Diana in terms of [telling her] ‘I’m feeling this type of way’ and she’d say ‘oh I really relate to that’. We would do reality checks with each other, and she’d be super supportive and just listen so I was so grateful.”
Silvers also shared her gratitude for her co-star, chiming in: “Kristine is a very special person, there are no other people like Kristine. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in this film.”
Birds Of Paradise will premiere exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on September 24, 2021.
If you identify with the themes in this article, confidential help is available for free at the National Eating Disorders Association. Call (800) 931-2237 or text text “NEDA” to 741741. The line is available 24 hours, every day. You can also chat to them online here.
Specialists from the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation are also available via email. You can contact them here.