English National Ballet have partnered with Sky, Europe’s leading entertainment company and Factory 42, a new virtual reality studio. This may seem an unusual combination, but they joined forces to create a ground breaking video of Giselle. And I tried it out.
Sky experiments in Virtual Reality
You will be familiar with virtual reality in the gaming industry. You can probably picture grown men in headsets pretending to fire laser out of spaceships. But it is an unexplored area for broadcasters, and one Sky are leading experiments in.
“We are just at the beginning of our VR journey at Sky… we are already breaking new ground. Now comes the creative challenge of deploying this immersive experience with engaging story-telling…”
Sky launched their app last October and it already features a plethora of content from F1 racing to documentaries. So I got out my google cardboard headset and downloaded Sky VR. I was keen to test their version of Giselle.
My experience of Giselle’s retelling
The app features a two-minute video of Akram Khan’s retelling of Giselle. Where a group of migrant workers, cast out of their jobs at a garment factory, become entertainment for the landlords. I brought the headset to my face, and pressed play.
I was transported to an eerie Ghost factory. Giselle stood centre screen in a white dress with dark black hair. It immediately felt creepy. She slowly turned around and the music became louder. She pulsed and stamped and spun. I had to physically move around to see her aggressively leap around the factory. Smoke trailed off her hands. At points she directly looked at me until she disappeared into thin air…
This was an exciting new way to experience ballet. I felt part of the action, as if I was a bystander in the room. It was immersive, intimate and intense. My own personal performance. Watch my Youtube channel where I experienced Giselle on Sky VR for the first time!
Take a leap of faith
Arts and culture should snap at the heels of this new technology. We are a population glued to our phones simply drooling to be part of the next best trend. So take your work direct to the hands of your audience with virtual reality. It may well be one way to engage a new and younger crowd. However remember, we’re also a fickle bunch. So VR might be just outdated before you know it.
But I say take a leap of faith and follow in Sky’s brave footsteps. YOLO.
Learn how to use Sky’s VR app here
Read more about Akram Khan’s, Giselle here