“HEROES: A Duet in Mixed Reality” is a new project, created by Melissa Painter, creative director and innovation strategist at MAP Design Lab. Inspired by the historic architecture of the Theatre at the Ace, she created a real beauty, combining VR, AR, dance and iconic song Heroes by David Bowie.

“I wanted to explore one duet, one song, one location with three different media and really do it almost as a test to try to imagine, given the current state of all these technologies today, what could we do with each of those things,” director Melissa Painter tells Creators.

Director used the VR and the techniques of the immersive theater to create the feeling of escaping from the reality – let the audience to drift into the show completely and feel like a part of it. The combination of VR and AR makes the stage an individual character, that becomes an inevitable part of the show. The location has a great meaning in this show – breathtaking architecture and the sense of history give much more meaning to this experience. “We chose the Theatre at Ace Hotel as the setting for our mixed reality experiment because we were inspired by its history in the evolution of cinema, and because we needed a building so beautiful that it was able to be a star in its own right,” explains Painter. “We are working in these emergent media because we believe that they can and will change the culture, the same way the birth of cinema did.”

Creating HEROES directors used MPC VR and the Unity game engine. Besides a 360-degree camera, photogrammetry, and rapid avatar creation, they used some relatively traditional technologies like 2D cameras, painting, animation, and dance.

The project premiered at Sundance at the film festival’s New Frontier Art exhibition. The film started in the VR with two dancers literally throwing themselves in a pool at the Ace Hotel then turning out at the gorgeous stage and performing powerful and athletic choreography. The dancing show beautifully performed by male-female couple sort of proves that the traditional form of art won’t disappear, but can exist in a natural combination with modern technology of VR.

We can’t but notice that the dance performed by the couple seems to reflect the idea of equality and support between partners. Choreographer and artistic director of Helios Dance Theater, Laura Gorenstein Miller explains her idea: “I was inspired to create an evening of hyper romantic, fiercely physical duets,” Miller says. “In these crazy political times, I felt the need to show examples of love crossing all boundaries. In my choreography my women lift my men, men are lifting men and women together as well. The physicality of the work embraces the entire LGBTQ spectrum. My passion is to create choreography where the dancers are impossibly entangled yet bursting with energy and sensuality.»

It seems like the most difficult task for creators was to adapt the show for any audience, because VR and AR requires special equipment in a theatre. To be able to show the film in a more traditional theatre Laura Gorenstein Miller created Minor Obsessions – a suite of dances – ten duets and an eight-piece finale performance, that has the same idea – to show the contemporary complexities of love and adulthood in a moment of spreading technology and the lack of privacy.

Minor Obsessions premiered at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles in March, but still there is an opportunity to watch Watch a 360-degree video of the first part of HEROES on Facebook.

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