There is an exciting, affordable potential for attending classical ballet performances even in light of educational cuts in the arts and curtailed field trips. The creation of this virtual ballet art form does not come without an intense amount of work and dedication and the results awe an appreciative audience just as a ballet in the physical world does.
Attendees at the Ballet Pixelle Theatre TM participate in a unique performance experience. The ballet company (formerly Second Life Ballet) was hosted by IBM on Second Life for three years, and is now independently hosted and run by the Founder and Artistic Director Inarra Saarinen. Performances are all held at Ballet Pixelle’s home theatre on Second Life, a beautiful sim with a stage and plenty of seating.
Dancers in the digital ballet company include an international group of artists in the physical world; dancers, musicians, and digital artists. An understanding of ballet movements, music and terminology is essential for the performers as the performance is not a looped pose-ball but a carefully choreographed dance with avatars actually moving and activating animations on cue, just as in the physical world. Each performance is slightly different just as it would be in the physical world. The director creates animations and the dancers learn and practice the animations prior to an actual performance. It is a unique art form combining a blend of physical knowledge and skill with knowledge and skills in the virtual environment.
Costumes, Avatar appearances, props and sets are all built by the ballet company artists. The virtual world allows for instant changes and transformations providing storytelling possibilities that would be impossible in the physical world, watching the Nutcracker transform from a “life size” to a toy size nutcracker in a poof of sparkles while other avatars danced around. Ballet company musicians play and/or record the music for performances working closely with the director as she develops the choreography. Each ballet requires much offline work and a rehearsal period of about 3 to 4 months with two or more rehearsals a week, each lasting approximately two hours.
Inarra Saarinen tells me that audience members are from all over the world as well, some without the financial means and some without the physical or other means to be able to attend a ballet in the physical world. Some attendees are lucky to attend ballet in both the physical and the virtual world.
The next ballet , scheduled to begin Sunday April 15 at 5:00 PM will be a revival of “Windows”, which was performed in 2007. The revival has new sets, costumes and dancers. There will probably be two shows a week — Sundays at 5pm and Wednesdays at 2pm. SL time. Inarrra describes the play metaphorically “… openings that allow us to see a glimpse of a person’s life; to be a voyeur for a moment in time. “Windows” allows us to look into a person — their heart and soul, dreams and hopes, failures and disappointments.” Original music was composed for the ballet by Louis Landon (Louis Volare in SL).