When you picture the various use-cases that best fit virtual reality, ballet may not be the first you think of. Or the 10th, for that matter. But sometimes it’s a whole lot of fun being proved wrong, which is exactly what the Dutch National Opera & Ballet has done with Night Fall, aka the world’s first VR ballet.
The idea behind it is simple: slap on a Google Cardboard or Gear VR headset and then enjoy an astonishing 360-degree video that places you in the midst of a dance performance you’re not soon going to forget.
“The ballet has been choreographed especially for this film,” Richard Heideman, press manager for the Dutch National Opera & Ballet, told Digital Trends. “There was one 360 camera on a stand in the middle of this large industrial space. The camera itself has eight lenses and all of them are recording everything all around constantly. This means as a viewer you are standing in the middle and can watch to all sides: left, right, behind you, but also up and down.
“Normally if you would watch a performance on a stage you see everything from one side. Now the action is happening all around you. That has never been done before and is unique in the world of ballet.”
While virtual reality is certainly something new, however, the Dutch National Ballet has always been notable for its “early adopter’ approach to new technologies. As far back as 1979, for instance, the famous Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen became one of the first choreographers in the world who worked with live video on stage. In this way, VR is just a continuation of the group’s desire to experiment.
“It is also meant to see if we can reach a new audience with this project,” Heideman continued. “[We intended to] reach out to people who would normally not buy a ticket to a theater or ballet performance, but are willing to try the VR project — and we hope it gets them inspired and excited to also try the live on stage experience one day.”
For more info on how best to enjoy this unique experience, you can check out the handy guide on the National Ballet’s website.