On a day when the mercury hit 33C at Sydney's Maroubra Beach, choreographer Corey Baker sat on the sand with cinematographer Jacob Bryant – who helped film, among many other things, the Richie McCaw documentary Chasing Great – and plotted the moves to his next dance.

The irony wasn't lost on Baker and Bryant; the piece they were discussing is the first public dance to be performed in Antarctica where today's temperature was forecast to be -31C.

Canterbury born and raised, Baker and Bryant, with Royal New Zealand Ballet dancer Madeleine Graham, swap swimwear for snowsuits when they leave Christchurch for Antarctica tomorrow to spend 15 days at Scott Base, weather permitting.

It is the first time a choreographer and dancer have travelled to the South Pole to make and film work in situ. They're taking part in Antarctica NZ's Community Engagement Programme designed to catch the public imagination and get us learning and understanding more about Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.


Accompanied by Bryant, they'll film Graham dancing on ice and footage for a documentary, with NZ on Air funding, which brings art and science together to spark conversations about climate change, the environment and wildlife preservation.

Baker, 28, first revealed plans for the historic dance to the Herald in December.

Since then, he and Graham have been at ice-skating rinks figuring out what sort of footwear they'll need; working with family-run outdoor clothing manufacturer Earth Sea Sky to design gear sufficiently warm for Antarctica but flexible enough to dance in and spending time at the RNZB's rehearsal rooms going through movements and steps.

Baker has even met adventurer and Antarctic veteran Peter Hillary to talk about what to expect on the ice.

"He shared information with me about how to deal with the conditions but he also told me to make sure we enjoy it," says Baker.

"He advised me to make sure I made time to get out on the ice and take it all in, rather than simply running around worrying about the footage I had to shoot and all the deadlines and time restrictions."

Yesterday, he and Graham took to Christchurch's Dance-O-Mat to perform. The Dance-O-Mat, a coin-operated ex-laundromat washing machine which powers four speakers, is often used by choreographers to work out in the open with dancers.

Baker says it was a way of helping Graham, who dances mainly in studios and purpose-built theatres, to step outside her comfort zone.

Baker is used to dancing outdoors, having set up a production company which specialises in making dances in unexpected places. Last year, he produced Phone Box, with the iconic British red telephone box the star of his show.

He reckons it will help that Bryant has been to Antarctica before; indeed, Bryant is no stranger to what some might consider adverse conditions. He helped make the extreme job TV series Ends of the Earth and, in 2007, earned a then Qantas Award for an episode shot in Afghanistan.

Bryant returned to Afghanistan to make the documentary A Flickering Truth about the endurance of an Afghanistan Film Festival and has worked there with journalist Jon Stephenson.

In 2015, Bryant was arrested when he travelled with Maori Television journalist Ruwani Perera as part of the "freedom flotilla" intending to run an Israeli naval blockade to take aid supplies to Gaza.

Once Baker and Graham return from Antarctica, he will create a new one-act ballet for the RNZ Ballet's Dancing with Mozart season, which starts in Wellington in May before touring New Zealand. This will expand on the Antarctica dance project and aims to transport audiences from the theatre to South Pole.