Agora de la danse is entering virtual reality. A performance on stage, or broadcast on the web, is all well and good, but with a headset that projects you right in the middle of the action, among the performers, the five senses widely sought after, is something else.
A quick note before we get started: I had never experienced the fantastic (and scary) world of virtual reality. Koros. Here is the amazement of a novice who had not realized that once the helmet is screwed onto the skull, the action really happens. all around you. What madness.
Koros it’s a first step, a toe dipped in the ocean that could constitute the marriage between contemporary dance and virtual reality. No similar project has seen the light of day in Quebec, despite the growing popularity of “VR” and works built around technological immersion. “We also did our own little research, the project’s producer and technical director, Alex Larrègle, assures me. It has not yet been danced here. »
Experience Koros it lasts a little over thirty minutes and is divided into three parts. Three completely different choreographic works, all produced by women. The viewer can watch the shows in the desired order using the head as a remote control.
After technical considerations, headphones here, headphones like this, too tight, not tight enough, here is the volume button, everything is fine, good vision, finally gone. Brokers will also be on site on February 17th, 18th and 19th to ensure everyone is comfortable. It’s a bit more complex to see Koros than sitting in row E, sitting in 23 and watching the stage, let’s face it.
From precision to release
Dive in Allegro Barbaro from Hélène Blackburn’s company Cas Public initially proves to be an excellent choice. Immediately the magic of virtual reality works. The camera used to capture the dancers (round and equipped with several lenses, Alex explains) is placed in the middle of the stage. The ten artists, some barefoot, others in tiptoes or heels, never dance in unison. In groups or alone, they play cat and mouse with me. I can’t tell you how many laps I did with my chair trying not to miss anything.
The square, precise and mesmerizing gestures of the Quebec choreographer seem made for virtual reality. I turn and whoop!, in front of me is a group of performers, very close, majestic insistence, their torsos diagonally, their gazes unclear. The number seems to span two short minutes. The thrill of the moves never stops or slows down. Successful dive!
It is only in the second (and shorter) part of Koros He brings his hand to his head to adjust the helmet a little. Then I see my fingers in 3D, robotic fingers that respond perfectly to the gestures of my real hand. Well. We are in a parallel world at this point.
Quebecer Marie Gillis proposes The Complex Simplicity of Love, a piece created 20 years ago and in which the choreographer is also a dancer. Gillis wanted to deal with absence, the inability to dance with someone who is no longer there. Select the number for Koros it seemed clear to him: the public is not there, not really. He listens indirectly, alone and silently.
tea The Complex Simplicity of Love features three dancers of a certain age. Now, she deserves the beauty of the unusual, dance is an environment where it is difficult to pursue a professional career past 40, if not 30. The work is easy, without glitter. Improvisation seems to occupy a large place and technique a smaller place. The laughter and crinkling of the dancers’ colorful dresses, sounds that enhance the experience, are crystal clear through the headphones. The three performers leave the stage as if running across a field. My heart is heavy. I bet that’s the intended effect and it’s universal.
From one point of view to another…to another
6.58 manifesto, from Colombian-born choreographer Andrea Peña’s company, Andrea Peña & Artists, completes the trilogy. We enter a universe at the ultimate antipodes, where anxiety and restlessness are as palpable as movement. The rhythm is slow, carried by the piercing notes of the singer even on stage. Scantily clad, the artists indulge in bodily monologues that seem to emerge from a discontent, from an embryonic cry for help. In crawling balls on the ground, in fusion duets or standing on a chair to escape from I-don’t-know-what, the performers definitely have something to say, although it’s not clear anymore.
One of the features of this last part lies in the movements of the camera. Placed on a cart, it is dragged from left to right by male and female dancers to provide different perspectives. If you hadn’t figured it out already, when the camera moves, so do I. Impression is good to be wrong. Children who try it will undoubtedly be convinced to move.
I remove the helmet a little disoriented, my palms wet. Koros it is a product to be seen and seen again, more than a work filmed and then broadcast, but less than a performance in the flesh. The intention is not to cut the grass under the feet of the scene, the truth. The energy of personal performance is unmatched. However, it is very special to find yourself in the middle of a number, exposed to the breaths and facial expressions of the dancers, so important in delivering a choreography. VR projects are also easier to bring to regions, for example, where the resources needed for a show are not always easy to locate. No doubt, it’s a site to behold.
Some timed games are available on February 17th, 18th and 19th. Tickets, at a cost of $10, are on sale here.
* This article was produced in collaboration with L’Agora de la danse.