Dance meets Virtual Reality in Celestial Motion

We are excited to announce Celestial Motion, a virtual reality dance experience, produced by The Guardian’s award-winning in-house VR team and made in association with Sadler’s Wells. The piece is the Guardian’s first arts-inspired VR experience and was directed by Shehani Fernando and produced by Anetta Jones.

Choreographed by Alexander Whitley, Celestial Motion was adapted from his original stage production 8 Minutes, a commission by Sadler’s Wells which premiered at the theatre in June 2017 and is now touring the UK. Whitley, who is a New Wave Associate of Sadler’s Wells, collaborated with physicists from STFC RAL Space to create 8 Minutes. The piece took inspiration from the images and data of solar science research to explore the spectacular forces at work in the universe.

Watch the trailer below:

In the interactive VR piece, users are transported to a cosmic landscape. Here, viewers are able to switch between watching the dancers in their human form and experiencing a parallel world where ethereal digital figures perform the same choreography.

The ground-breaking VR experience was created in two halves. The costumed dancers were filmed in YouTube Space’s 360 green screen studio while the ‘virtual’ world was created by recording the dancers wearing motion capture suits at Queen Mary University of London where Whitley is an Artist Fellow. The Guardian’s VR team worked with creative technologist and lead developer Luca Biada of production studio F E N Y C E to bring the project to life. Video graphics for the piece were designed by BAFTA award-winning artist Tal Rosner and the accompanying music was composed by electroacoustic music innovator Daniel Wohl. Stunning images of the sun from the Solar Dynamics Observatory were also incorporated to create the dramatic climax of the piece.

Alistair Spalding CBE, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells said, “I’m delighted that Alexander’s fantastic work commissioned for our stage, can have another life and be experienced in a completely new way, reaching an even wider audience through The Guardian. At Sadler’s Wells we’re really interested in how dance and new technology can work together to create a different language, and add a new dimension to this art form which lends itself so well to these kinds of digital possibilities.”

Celestial Motion is available to view on the Guardian VR app for Daydream and will be coming soon to Google Cardboard, and HTC Vive. Download The Guardian VR app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.