With Google’s new immersive videos, you can feel what it’s like to be a ballet dancer

Welcome to the show.
Welcome to the show.
Image: Reuters/Charles Platiau
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With its new video project, Google doesn’t just want you to watch the opera—it wants you to (virtually) come on-stage.

Google’s Cultural Institute has launched a series of 360-degree videos that let viewers observe the arts like ballet, orchestra, opera, and other performances from the center of the stage—and let you spin around to see the action from all angles.

In collaboration with a handful of performing arts institutions, the initiative’s new video collection puts famous dances and musical pieces online as well—but the format and the HD quality of the videos lets viewers feel like they’re part of the ensemble, rather than just watching the same performance from the crowd, or from their desk chair.

The New York Times (paywall) describes the initiative as part of a larger effort to attract new audiences, the kind of people who might be interested in the Royal Shakespeare Company or the Paris Opera, but who may have never visited. Now, the at-home viewer can get something you can’t see even if you visit these places in person—like floating 83 feet above the floor to examine the ceiling of the Stern Auditorium, or bouncing from seat to seat to wing to backstage while the orchestra plays at Carnegie Hall.

The Google Cultural Institute was launched in 2012. It has previously helped digitize arts collections from various museums around the world, and make them available to browse online for free.