Review: VR Is The Star In Le Bal De Paris

Le Bal de Paris, The Barbican Centre ★★★★☆

Franco Milazzo
By Franco Milazzo Last edited 25 months ago

Last Updated 07 April 2022

Review: VR Is The Star In Le Bal De Paris Le Bal de Paris, The Barbican Centre 4
Image: Blanca Li Dance Company

The VR is the star for immersive hit Le Bal de Paris from the Blanca Li Dance Company. Soon after opening, it was extended for another 60 shows so, if you’re looking for one of the coolest experiences around, this is definitely worth checking out.

Given how much of an altered reality we have all been living in for more than two years, the idea of spending time in “virtual reality” may seem quite quaint. For just over half an hour, ten audience members at a time go on a journey through and over Paris taking in a huge ballroom scene, walking through a hedge maze, wandering through a nightclub, riding on a boat into the sunset and plenty more.

Image: Blanca Li Dance Company

Bal de Paris is not the only immersive show worth seeing in town but the use of technology makes it very different from the likes of The Great Gatsby, a theatrical time-trip back into the classic 1920s novel, or Punchdrunk's latest opus The Burnt City. Our advice is to dress down (light clothing is suggested as sensors will be fitted to your arms and leg and you’ll be given a headset and backpack to wear) before you dress up; the first task is to choose which gorgeous Chanel tux or dress to adorn your VR self with.

Image: Blanca Li Dance Company

From there on in, prepare to peel those eyeballs back for a beautifully realised three-dimensional view of the city of love. And, if you’re wondering whether walking around in all that gear makes you feel slightly like a Ghostbuster: yes, yes it does.

Two aspects letting this down are the show’s corny love story and the short dance lesson afterwards, which feels tacked-on. That apart, this combination of live performance and state-of-the-art tech is a truly amazing experience.

Le Bal de Paris at The Barbican Centre. Tickets £25, until 23 May 2022.