Virtual Reality and Theater Come Together to a Classic David Bowie Tune

Creators by VICE
By Tanja M. Laden

Whether in real life or mixed reality, HEROES (and Minor Obsessions) proves that fundamental art forms like dance won’t go away with the advent of VR. Emerging platforms just give experiential control back to audiences, encouraging individual interaction as well as collective ones, all while exploring mixed reality’s uncharted terrain and redefining the art of storytelling.

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In the burgeoning world of virtual reality, storytelling is both cutting-edge and old-fashioned

Los Angeles Times
By Steven Zeitchik

The AR component, meanwhile, pushes boundaries. The tech is still being ironed out, but the possibilities are intriguing: “Heroes” has you entering a room and conjuring up those same young dancers from the VR pieces, this time as holograms with the help of a variety of voice commands. You can multiply them as they’re spinning all around you. At one point you can even shrink the kids and have them dance in your hand.

But the point here is more than just giving you that Rick Moranis feeling. The idea of a dance performance that can happen in a room only for you, and customized to your (sometimes surreal) specifications, prompts conceptual questions: about the relationship between performer and audience, between disembodied VR consumer and the qualities of physical performance.

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The Most Inspiring Events At My First Weekend In Sundance

By Laura Delarato

The first bite into the experience involved me holding onto a railing while sporting VR gear by Oculus and headphones — a true sensory deprivation if there ever was one. I was immediately transported inside the Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles standing on stage while two incredibly athletic dancers swayed and shifted to the iconic song “Heroes” by David Bowie. The second piece was a Microsoft HoloLens AR experience that allowed for users to interact with the dancers with voice and touch commands.

This new headset still allows you to see the room you’re standing in, but the dancers and floating objects appear seamlessly in your own reality. The user can command the dancers to get bigger or smaller with subtle voice commands. At one point, I was able to reach my hand out to allow the dancers to continue their rhythm on my hand — I must have looked childish by people who couldn’t see what I was seeing: a man and a woman dancing in the palm of my hand. Unequivocally psychedelic.

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“HEROES. A Duet In Mixed Reality”: How To Combine Choreography And VR/AR

Welker Media
By Alina Gazizova

The 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.”

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Sundance merges VR with real life through props, AR, and vibrating suits

By Josh Constine

What stole the show at Sundance New Frontier was a single art piece that begins in VR, then opens up into augmented reality using the Microsoft HoloLens. It demonstrates how multiple mediums can be combined to provide a more robust set of perspectives on a theme.

Set to the David Bowie song of the same name, Heroes puts you on a VR stage with two acroyoga dancers lifting and climbing each other before they grow to Godzilla-size to spread love through the city. You’re then placed into a specially-adorned HoloLens, which projects graphics on its clear visor so they seem to appear in the real world around you.

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The Verge
By Adi Robertson

Heroes (another Oculus-supported piece) is fundamentally a dance sequence set to the David Bowie song of the same name, presented across two formats: first a 360-degree Gear VR video, then a Microsoft HoloLens experience. The former gives you a full view of the stage and dancers, and the second lets you walk through a series of scenes that seem to appear in mid-air, controlled by speaking words that are scattered on physical cards around the room. All the while, the headset is tracking your movements, leaving a bright streamer behind to mark your path. HoloLens is still too uncomfortable and limited for this to consistently live up to its full potential, but when it does click, it’s magical.

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VR at Sundance 2017: Rise of the series, mixed reality experiments and VR for good

By Sophie Charara

Also on show, Heroes, which uses both VR and AR via the Microsoft HoloLens and is set to David Bowie’s Heroes. So ‘acroyoga’ dancers appear different sizes depending on which medium you are experiencing them through. Nuts?

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MAP Design Lab Creates MOVE Studio for Microsoft MR


Microsoft recently commissioned MAP Design Lab to create a kinetic experience as one of four featured demos showcasing the breadth of Windows Mixed Reality capabilities. Experienced through Microsoft partner headsets and operated using Microsoft controllers and the user’s own changes in vertical and lateral movement, MOVE Studio lets users paint, dance, sway and bounce alongside professional Helios Dance Theater dancers and basketball players within specially-crafted artistic environments. All changes within the experience are determined by user movement.

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This Staggering Ballet Duet Set To Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ Is Just Daaaaamn

The Huffington Post
By Priscilla Frank

The following video is proof, yet again, that ballet dancers make pop music infinitely more powerful.

This gem, courtesy of Southern California’s Helios Dance Theater, features a passionate duet between dancers Princess Mecca Romero and Chris Stanley, busting it out to Sam Smith’s achingly poignant ballad “Stay With Me.”

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This Powerful Ballet Duet to ‘Stay With Me’ Will Leave Shivers Down Your Spine

People Magazine
By Alexandra Zaslow

If you’re looking for three minutes of passion, you’ve come to the right place.

Princess Mecca Romero (her first name is Princess) and Chris Stanley of theHelios Dance Theater in Southern California perform a stunning ballet duet set to Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” – and it’s just about as powerful as it gets.

With choreography by Laura Gorenstein Miller, the dancers rock minimal clothing as they float through an empty studio they manage to fill with big emotion.

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Ballet Duet To Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ Is Absolutely Breathtaking

By Gillian Fuller

It’s no secret that Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” is one hell of a tearjerker.

The pop ballad is powerful enough on its own, but when used as the soundtrack to a beautiful dance performance, it’s off-the-charts moving.

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This Ballet Duet Set to Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” Will Give You All Kinds of Chills

By Lynsey Eidell

It’s no secret that I love a good ballet video, especially ones set to popular music (I contributed an alarming number of views to the Hozier ballet vid). But in case you need more evidence to this can’t-lose combination—which should be right up there with french fries and ketchup and The Bachelor and white wine—behold: This simple-yet-stunning duet performed to Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me.”


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This ballet duet to Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” is heart-crushingly gorgeous

Hello Giggles
By Gina Vaynshteyn

Seriously, this is SUCH a powerful representation of “Stay With Me.” It’s evocative, emotionally fluid, and stunningly melancholic. We highly recommend a box of tissues when you watch this.

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This Duo’s Dance to Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ Is Utterly Beautiful


An amazing dance duo, Princess Mecca Romero & Chris Stanley, from the Helios Dance Theater, performed an utterly beautiful routine choreographed by Laura Gorenstein Miller. The routine is full of amazing lifts and unbelievable technique (which makes us wonder HOW they can even move their bodies like that).

You did Sam Smith proud, you two.


This Duo’s Powerful Dance to Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ Is a Tearjerker
By Marc Inocencio

Sam Smith‘s breakout hit “Stay With Me” is an emotional lyrical piece in itself, but when the gospel-tinged ballad is expressed through the art of dance, it becomes something more poignant.

Seasoned dancers Princess Mecca Romero and Chris Stanley of the Helios Dance Theater delivered a beautiful dance number set to the In the Lonely Hour track, in which they perform powerful, athletic lifts, display their incredible technique, and evoke raw emotions all the while.

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Helios Dance Theater’s leader dream vividly

Los Angeles Times
Oct. 20, 2010
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Helios Dance Theater: Finding Romance in Monsters and Vampires

Los Angeles Times
Oct. 20, 2010
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Pick of the Week – Helios Dance Theater: Beautiful Monsters

LA Weekly
Oct. 23, 2010
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Vampires to Dance in Westwood on Saturday
Oct. 20, 2010
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Review of “The Lotus Eaters”

“A cornucopia of gorgeous dancing, divine choreography, dreamy music, and sexy costumes, ‘The Lotus Eaters’ is a 10-part, 75-minute journey into sensual abandon and fierce physicality.”

Dance Magazine
Apr. 3, 2009
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Back to Making Worlds Anew

“Breathtakingly fluid, gorgeously danced and sexy as hell, Laura Gorenstein Miller’s “The Quickening,” an ode to child-birth and its aftereffects, is a pure, body-driven work… choreography of a high order… Miller gave birth yet again Friday night… to a dance classic.”

Los Angeles Times
October 19, 2008
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“Miller’s approach translates into a well-crafted balance of inward retrospection and physical risk, with such yummy Helios dancers as pintsized powerhouse Maria Gillespie and the assured Diana Mehoudar succumbing and defying their inner turmoil as they whip and fly about… arching backward to impossible depths at one turn, then, in the next, vehemently wrenching torsos and limbs forward as if to exorcise every last vulnerability those arches implied.”
LA Weekly

“In a potent, near-flawless blend of humor and pathos, Helios Dance Theater, directed and choreographed by Laura Gorenstein, once again burst through the boundaries of everyday life…”
Los Angeles Times 

“Gorenstein’s pieces – with the help of her versatile and skilled dancers – are like those ornate treasures crafted by imperial artisans for the Romanovs. Each layer of the work hides another more intricate layer with further visual delights.”
Los Angeles Times

“Helios Dance Theater lit up California State University at Northridge’s stage with the multifaceted dances choreographed by its director, Laura Gorenstein Miller. They ranged from outre humor to relational affection to otherworldly mysticism. Her choreography has an individual stamp and fits a single vision.”
Dance Magazine

“Tears were shed in the audience Saturday, and Gorenstein Miller and Helios earned them honestly.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Two companies graced Milwaukee last week: New York’s Paul Taylor Co. and Los Angeles’ Helios Dance Theater. They are as far apart in style as the miles between them but are as one in sheer excellence.”
The Shepherd Express

“Gorenstein’s is a bright, distinguished voice in dance, and Helios, a reflection of her gifts, is ready to leap into a larger spotlight.”
Los Angeles Times

“Laura Gorenstein Miller and her Helios Dance Theater have distilled the iconic Diary of Anne Frank into a powerful and gripping essence.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Powerful, witty and sharp-edged, Helios Dance Theater presented a knockout program of old and new works at Cal Arts.”
Los Angeles Times

“Regal, gestural work…unearthly performances of gravity-defying ballet fused with gravity-indulging contact improvisation.”
Buzz Magazine

“Motherhood issues were at once obvious and ambiguous in The Quickening, the resulting ballet…The remarkable central solo, danced powerfully by Alisha Murray, was full of downward thrusting, sinuous ripples from the shoulders through the pelvis…In retrospect – but only in retrospect – the whole of it might be taken to represent passion, birth and social duty as stages in life.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“A night with Helios will be a night to remember.”
The Voter

“Witnessing Laura Gorenstein’s choreography was, in turn, hallucinogenic one moment and poignant the next. It bypassed the intellect, taking us straight to the heart.”
L.A. Dance & Fitness

“Her (Gorenstein) inspiration brings to the stage many concerns women face in society, from abortion and rape to the celebration of women.”

“Talk about craft. And concept. her dances – for women, about women – suggests that she understands full well the benefits of eliminating ideas.”
LA Weekly

“…Grace seems to merge with protest. Wind-swept and well crafted, “Scratch Swallow Self,” is visually striking, with beautiful curves that break into everyday ditherings just briefly before they merge into finely balanced groupings.”
Los Angeles Times