Toulouse: Thanks to virtual reality, the public invites itself on stage, among the dancers of the Capitole ballet

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How does it feel to be on stage, among the dancers, when you’re just a spectator? To be able to follow them backstage between two paintings or to be able to capture their gaze when they have just made an arabesque? It’s hard to see all these details or feel all these emotions when you are comfortably seated in your seat.

However, from October 16 to 23, the ballet audience Toulouse Lautrec, the new creation of
Kader Belarbi on stage at the Théâtre du Capitole, will be able to live this unique experience. Thanks to virtual reality, some people in the room will be able to immerse themselves in the heart of this show dedicated to the painter of Montmartre of the Belle Epoque.

Thanks to wireless headphones, during the show they will be able to see a dozen pre-recorded sequences of one to three minutes in three dimensions. Thanks to a signal, they will be able to escape, to transform themselves into invisible witnesses. The idea for this foray into virtual reality was born during the confinement that led to the postponement of the premiere of this new choreographic work.

“Not a replacement but a supplement”

“It allowed us to ask something more consistent. It was added as an annex. But the show stays on stage, I don’t want to replace the live performance with virtual reality. It’s a supplement, it allows you to have another look, to see something that you have never seen anywhere, ”says the director and dance director, Kader Belarbi. For these scenes, he wrote a storyboard, built a story parallel to the show.

They were then recorded beforehand using eight cameras that operate simultaneously. And whose “stitched-up” images allow us to recreate the human gaze, to capture a 360 ° image. “Thanks to the helmet, we can position as many people on the stage as we could not put in reality, to have an impossible proximity. This allows you to be a voyeur, sometimes right next to Toulouse-Lautrec who was himself an observer of the intimacy of prostitutes, ”explains director Luc Riolon, who regularly films the Capitole ballet.

Fifty seats per show

For the latter, there is no question of seeking the sensational either, the spectator must not jump back when a dancer launches into a grand throw. Not to be tossed about to gag, or to kick your neighbor without wanting it. Only 50 spectators during each performance will be able to access it by reservation and at specific seats. And as soon as he takes off his helmet, he will be able to resume ballet lessons without any problem.

A world premiere, funded to the tune of 100,000 euros by sponsorship, and which could one day be a new way to extend the show. “Or to find another audience because one of the challenges remains that of demystifying and democratizing access to dance”, pleads Kader Belarbi.

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