The Royal Swedish Opera launches Virtual Reality pilot project – “The most advanced VR film produced in Sweden”

By on October 11, 2017

You will view angles that the audience never sees. You are completely surrounded by the dancers. You will experience details that are impossible to see from the auditorium.
The Royal Swedish Opera has a joint project with Robert & Robert – a Swedish production company specializing in Virtual Reality (VR). The collaboration is Sharon Eyal’s critically acclaimed dance piece Half Life using VR technology. In paralell with the VR filming, the dance work will be performed at the Royal Swedish Opera starting October 13 ending November 2.

“We’ve chosen to work with Sharon Eyal’s dance work Half Life in the pilot project because from a VR perspective its pared-down aesthetics and precise choreography will work really well,” says Catarina Falkenhav, Director of Communications at the Royal Swedish Opera. “We see it as an experiment that will keep us at the absolute leading edge among culture institutions when it comes to new, digital technology. In the long run, it’s about finding new ways to convey our performing arts and reach even larger audiences.”

Virtual Reality is emerging as a digital medium. Instead of watching an event on a screen, VR allows the observer to step into the screen and become part of its world. Wearing a VR headset, with stereoscopic displays, the observer can look around in a three-dimensional environment.

“I haven’t seen this kind of dance before. Never understood it. Not until now. I’m honored to take this beautiful art form, one of the oldest, and display it in one of the newest. If you don’t understand VR, you will now,” says Robert Connor, Robert & Robert. “Those who think VR can’t be watched for a long period of time – I’m going to captivate you for 42 minutes. If you say you’re not into ballet – prepare to appreciate. The Royal Swedish Ballet gives me chills on its own. Capturing angles in VR that the audience will never see, blows my mind. No VR production has ever used so many angles and transitions like this. Every cut and angle in Half Life is intended to enhance the presence of the spectator in the dance.”

According to the Royal Swedish Opera project manager Sebastian Lönberg, Half Life is a VR dance production unlike any other. Instead of placing the spectator at a fixed point, you will find yourself among, next to, above or under the dancers.

He goes on to say that, “No VR production has ever made use of such a large number of angles and visual transitions. Each cut and angle in Half Life has the purpose of augmenting the spectators’ presence among the dancers. In order to achieve this, we have based the production on the choreography. We do not set up our cameras at a distance and make a documentary of the ballet, we participate in it. We are not experimenting with this new medium, we use it at a high level and we are pushing the boundaries.”

The Royal Swedish Opera will be announcing the première of the VR production of Sharon Eyal’s Half Life in early 2018. The information about where visitors will be able to view the film is regularly updated on our web site.

Helena Olofsson, Culture & Music | Stockholm