“We will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the middle of the action, for something you have never seen!”: The choreographer Kader Belarbi offers himself “a world first” by introducing virtual reality in “Toulouse -Lautrec “, his new ballet.
With this season opening show at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, from October 16 to 23, the former star dancer of the Paris Opera innovates with cutting-edge technology “which will allow the spectator to project themselves on stage” fr wearing a helmet.
“We add a + annex + to the show. It is a surplus which brings a new perspective. That of the painter”, explains Kader Belarbi, who has directed the Toulouse Opera Ballet for ten years.
“+ Toulouse-Lautrec + it’s a creation that was postponed to the 1st confinement, then to the 2nd confinement. But these reports made it possible to pose something more consistent.”
Kader Belarbi confesses that before dancing, painting is his first passion. During the time suspended by the Covid pandemic, he drew a lot to refine his creation on the life and work of the Albigensian painter, who embodied “the soul of Montmartre”.
– Immersion in the intimate –
“Painting and dance are two related arts. The bias is to say the color is the woman, the black and white is the circle of men”, he explains.
At each of the six performances planned at the Capitol, about fifty spectators can, at the normal price of 63 euros, watch ten two-minute scenes in 3D using virtual reality (VR) headsets, “where Lautrec is the one who looked”.
They can thus leap “in the middle of the stage”, among the dancers, meeting their gaze, deluding themselves of an unprecedented complicity.
“Toulouse-Lautrec is a true pleasure-seeker, he is an observer of the human soul. He lived three years in a brothel. The proximity offered with virtual reality is really parallel to what the painter experienced”, underlines the ballet conductor.
Three VR scenes “stand out from the show” and offer “an immersion” behind the scenes with the dancers, or in the cozy decor of a brothel.
“We captured a 360 ° image with eight cameras plus one in + the sky +. Then, we do the + sewing + (in post production, editor’s note) so that each VR sequence created a + sphere” (from images) around the viewer “, explains Luc Riolon, one of the French masters of documentaries on dance.
– The euphoria of cancan –
“When we film the dance, we always want to get as close as possible to the dancers. Here, we transform the spectator into a voyeur exactly as Toulouse-Lautrec was”, launches the director.
This technological complexity has not destabilized the star dancer Natalia de Froberville: “With virtual reality we just pay more attention to space”, she says, explaining that we must be careful not to leave the field of each of the cameras.
“Cancan is new to me. It’s fire! It’s champagne!”, Says the Russian star who plays Jane Avril, icon of cancan and the Moulin Rouge “who was still called + Jane la Folle + or + La Mélinite + “, she laughs.
From this experience, the classical dancer retains “the emotion of the performing arts”, evokes the world of Lautrec, the fawn colors of the wigs, the eroticism of the cabaret dresses and chic underwear magnified by the costume designer Olivier Bériot.
This show immerses the ballet in the energy of the Belle Epoque on the frenzied rhythms of cancan and java. With this image technology at the service of emotion, a few spectators can enter the painter’s intimacy and meet the gaze of Jane Avril, his muse.
A feat made possible by “the Z CAM V1 camera, the only one in Europe. Another is in the space station with Thomas Pesquet”, specifies the director Luc Riolon.