I finally got a chance to catch the dance production "Olmannen" by the Second Life Ballet troupe this evening. I admit that I am not very fond of ballet — I find the movement very stilted and regimented and the music not to my taste. But I love dance and virtual worlds, so I felt it was my duty to check it out.
On the plus side, I think the performers and crew did a great job creating an evocative and lovely ambiance. The sets were lush, the costumes fanciful and bright, and the music an interesting blend of modern and classical (composed by Alazarin Mondrian). It certainly had all the trappings of a ballet.
But put aside the frippery and what is the essence of a ballet: it’s a dancer expressing with her body a classical theme or emotion, a rich blend of athleticism and grace set to music. Going to the ballet is about having a transcendent experience, watching humans doing superhuman feats with incredibly artistry and feigned effortlessness.
The performers in "Olmannen" certainly seemed to be working hard. But, to put it bluntly, they weren’t dancing. They were enabling custom scripted dance animations in precise time with each other. The result is quite pretty, but in the end is spectacle without power, merely impressive rather than awe-inspiring.