By: Michael (Bubblesort Triskaidekaphobia)
On Sunday, the Déjà vu ballet dance troupe performed the Tempest. The set design, costuming, choreography, effects, and music all came together beautifully, to tell the story of Shakespeare’s last play.
After the show, I caught up with Déjà vu’s producer, Ina Garnier, for an interview, where she shared with me her process for creating ballet in Second Life, her thoughts on how ballet is best experienced, and how the Déjà vu ballet troupe is directly effected by the war in Ukraine.
|Prospero summons a storm|
(Note: This interview has been edited for length, grammar, and clarity)
Michael (Bubblesort Triskaidekaphobia): Thank you, for talking to me on such short notice! Just so our readers know, English is a second language for you. Your profile says you are from Gdansk, in Poland?
Ina Garnier (lna carpaccio): Poland, right.
Michael: Oh yes, Poland is right next to Ukraine. I love the Ukraine support at your show! I noticed the flag giver on the stage and the t-shirts at the front doors. One detail I noticed was that during the show, when firestorm showed me stream title notifications, every track was named Deja Vu - Glory to Ukraine!
Ina Garnier: Yes, I announced at the opera house at the beginning of this war that Deja Vu would be playing in honor of Ukraine. That's why I changed the titles. One of our dancers is now in Ukraine. She is not with us, but this is not the only reason why we support Ukraine.
Michael: I hope she will be ok. We are all hoping for the best in Ukraine.
Ina Garnier: The issue is very close to me. Ukraine is our neighbor.
Michael: That must be difficult. Do you meet a lot of Ukranian refugees where you are?
Ina Garnier: Yes, there are a lot of them in Gdansk
Michael: I hope things work out in the end.
Ina Garnier: I hope too
|Top: T-Shirt Giver at Royal Theater front Steps. Bottom: Ukraine flag giver, front and center, on the stage.|
Michael: What is your title at Deja Vu? Producer?
Ina Garnier: I am a woman-orchestra, that's what we say. That is, I deal with everything: producer, director, choreographer. I also do decorations and some costumes.
Michael: That sounds like a lot of work. How did you get involved with dance? Were you a dancer and choreographer before you came to Second Life?
Ina Garnier: In real life, I used to run a neighborhood theater for children. It was called the Cheese Keyhole Theatre. I have long been passionate about ballet, music and theater.
Michael: Tell me a little bit about your process. When you decide what play to put on, what is the next step? Recruiting dancers? Choreography? Costuming? Set design?
Ina Garnier: The first step is always an idea. Then I make set design, and costumes, and I choose the music. Then I devise a choreography. These are not always adaptations of ballets that exist in real life, I often make up my own stories.
Michael: That is interesting! So, you begin with the set and costumes and then do the choreography. That makes sense, because it's probably easier to choreograph things as they will look with full costume and set design.
Ina Garnier: Exactly.
Michael: What tools do you use to choreograph? Do you make your own animations?
Ina Garnier: I am using the animations available in Second Life.
Michael: Do you use any in world tools to put the animations together?
Ina Garnier: I also use Spot On Choreography tools, so that I can set precise paths, on which the dancers can move, and match time the animations.
|The full cast takes a final bow|
Michael: Are your dancers all actual people, or bots, or mannequins?
Ina Garnier: Sometimes I use alts, if I need more people than there are in the troupe. There are 14 people in the troupe. Alts are also a reserve in case someone breaks down, so I don't have to cancel the show.
Michael: Most of your dancers are actual people, then. I'm surprised all the dance and theater companies use so many real people. It seems to me like alts, or mannequins, would be easier.
Ina Garnier: For sure, the alts do not argue, and are extremely disciplined. They always obey my will. It is different with people.
Michael: Tell me, when you block the scenes out, as a choreographer, do you block them out with the idea that the audience will see the stage the same way we would see it in real life? I mean, in Second Life we can violate the proscenium arch. In other words, we can move our camera to extreme angles and zoom in on dancers and things like that. Do you think your audiences would get more from your performances by keeping a straight angle, looking directly at the stage? Or maybe you would prefer we move our cameras around during the show?
Ina Garnier: It would be best if the people watched my performances as they would in real life, but one of the special qualities of Second Life is that you can see from everywhere, without any problems. It is up to the people where to look, and what to see. If someone is curious, they can watch us stand behind the scenes, between acts. I often see photos taken from the back of the stage, that kind of spoil the fun a bit.
Michael: I can understand how that would be annoying, if you choreograph as you would in real life, and then the audience does unexpected things that can't be done in the real world.
Ina Garnier: Yes, but I understand people. They want to know what it looks like from the back when I'm in a real theater, as well, so that curiosity is not that much different than in the real world. I'm also interested in how it really works, when I see a performance.
|Michael violated the proscenium arch to get a more dramatic angle, and get closer to the performers. You can’t get angles like this in real life.|
Michael: How far in advance do you usually announce your next show? Do you usually put it on the google calendar a week before the show, or a month?
Ina Garnier: Sometimes, I manage to plan for a month in advance, but sometimes at the last minute. There are different situations, and it is not always possible to plan far in advance. Sometimes, I just don't have time to do something, and then I have to change my plans.
|Trailer, from when the Polish National Ballet’s 2017 performance of Chopiniana & Bolero|
Michael: Tell me a little bit about your show next week: Chopiniana & Bolero.
Ina Garnier: This double ballet is an unusual performance. The first part to the music of Fryderyk Chopin, the second is Bolero by Ravel. The first part is calm, romantic, and the second part is growing, and dynamic.
Michael: That sounds wonderful! I’m looking forward to seeing it. Also, I noticed on your Facebook group that you repeat shows now and then. That's really nice, because if I miss a show, I can wait for it to come back around. How often do shows rotate? I mean, if I missed the Tempest yesterday, how long do you think I might have to wait, before you perform it again?
Ina Garnier: I don't repeat them systematically. I just sit down and think about what to repeat. I have a total of 24 ready-made performances, so there is a lot that can be repeated throughout the year. But I also do new ones. It only takes a bit longer than a week to put a new show together. Sometimes it can take several months to put together one new performance.
Michael: Oh yeah, I can imagine it would probably be impossible to do a new play every week. I hope you do Prometheus again some time, though. That's my favorite play.
Ina Garnier: Prometheus is difficult, because there are as many as 30 avatars in it, so I don't repeat it too often.
|Display found in the Royal Theater’s basement, displaying fliers from previous performances.|
Michael: Let’s talk about dance groups in Second Life. Your Deja Vu group is wonderful, and I think everybody should join it, but if somebody is new to ballet in Second Life, are there any other groups they should look for, to connect with the theater and dance communities in Second Life, to learn about new shows?
Ina Garnier: There are a lot of dance groups and theaters in SL. If you are interested in this topic, there are a few places you can look for more information. One group is called Keep Performance Alive, and another is called Dance Queens. Both of them advertise a lot of shows. Dance Queens also has an online calendar of dance shows.
Michael: One last question: If somebody wants to become a Deja Vu ballerina, is there an application process for that? How would somebody get involved with joining Deja Vu?
Ina Garnier: Just write to me, I will talk to any one candidate
Michael: Thank you so much for a wonderful interview! Is there anything else you would like our readers to know before we finish?
Ina Garnier: I cordially invite everyone to our shows!