Exploring the storytelling potential of 360D technology, through dance

Scottish Ballet has partnered with BBC Arts Digital, using 360-degree technology as a new way to experience narrative dance online. The Perfect Place tells the story of a couple looking to recapture the spark they once had; delving deeply into their seemingly perfect life and exploring the emptiness and regret behind the façade. It is a collaboration between Scottish Ballet’s chief executive and artistic director  Christopher Hampson, choreographer Sophie Laplane and BBC director Laura-Jane McRae.

Producer Edwin Wyatt said: “The Perfect Place uses 360-degree video technology to create a new way to experience dance. The performance has been specially choreographed for this video. We worked very closely with Scottish Ballet to come up with an approach that truly embraces the medium.

“This project features very high resolution composited 360 video, green screen technology and location filming captured on 360 video cameras. The biggest challenge was in ensuring the viewer focuses on the parts of the video we want them to look at. We used theatrical techniques, in combination with directed storytelling, and dance, to lead the viewer through the experience

We wanted to tell a story within a 360 space and create a dance experience, designed from the ground up, to work within that medium. As such, we would like to know if our audience enjoyed the film, but more than that, did experiencing it in 360 make it more special for them?”

The film is part of the world’s first digital dance season, staged by Scottish Ballet during April. The season, Under the Skin, features three new dance films, live streaming events and a digital art installation – giving audiences around the world access to Scotland’s national dance company and the opportunity to see dance differently.

The Perfect Place was premiered at the Glasgow Short Film Festival last month and is released this Wednesday (19 April). You can view it using Google Cardboard, or similar headset, at YouTube 360 video via the YouTube smartphone app. It is also accessible without a headset, by moving your your tablet or smartphone, and on a laptop or desktop by clicking and dragging.

Other forthcoming events in the season include:

24-29 April: Creation of a Work in a Week, a series of live streams following choreographer James Cousins creating a new dance work.

21 April-5 May: Pop Up Gallery, at Tramway, Glasgow, featuring a groundbreaking digital dance installation and the films of Under The Skin.

5 May: Haud Close Tae Me, a short dance film directed by Scottish Ballet’s Eve McConnachie featuring a specially commissioned poem by Scotland’s Makar Jackie Kay.

“Scottish Ballet lies at the forefront of innovation in dance,” said Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet’s chief executive and artistic director, “and our ground-breaking digital season is another step forward as we seek to advance the art form and expand our audiences around the world.”

The season is supported by the John Ellerman Foundation. “We were struck by the boldness of their vision to create an entire digital season,” said head of grants Dorothée Irving, “and believe the company is well placed to take its existing work in the digital sphere to the next level. We can see the potential of the approach particularly when it comes to reaching younger audiences and those who would not ordinarily engage with ballet.”