Who you gonna call to fill the Ghostbusters Void?
China’s classical music scene in good hands
The latest attraction at JBR’s The Beach promises users a “hyper- reality” experience, based on the popular adventures of those fearless film favourite Ghostbusters.
Straight out of New York – the home of The Void – the Dubai branch is the first Void location outside the United States. We weren’t quite sure what hyper-reality was, so we headed out to road test The Void, which officially opened last Friday. We were not the only ones curious about it – there were crowds of beachgoers gathering around the closed venue as the Ghostbusters theme tune rang out.
While the recent Ghostbusters movie reboot may not have drawn the crowds, it seems an interactive encounter with some of its original spirits and monsters, including Slimer and The Stay Puft Marshmallow man, just might.
On entering, you’re shown a brief safety video before being strapped into a vest, given a helmet and entrusted with a blaster (a proton gun, neutrona wand or particle thrower to use Ghostbuster’s language).
“You’ll see three colours on your blaster – red, orange and green,” our instructor advised. “When it’s red, you can’t shoot because you don’t need to. When it goes green, just destroy everything.”
With that, we’re ready to go, and as our visors came down everything starts to make sense.
Suddenly, my suit and T-shirtclad team members are gone and I’m surrounded by fully kitted- out Ghostbusters, their moves all corresponding to my teammates.
At its heart, this is a multiplayer VR video game but here the physical interacts with the virtual. There are cold winds, smells and raindrops and many parts of the set you see in your headset can actually be touched – or held if needed.
That was the reassuring discovery I made when I found myself on scaffolding high above the New York streets while zapping gargoyles. As someone not too comfortable with heights, I held on tight to the structure because even though I was logically aware I was merely at sea level, wearing a headset, the view from the ‘precipice’ was gut churning.
I found the VR experience a little disorienting. If you’ve tried VR before, you probably know whether it affects you or not. The actual VR part of the experience lasts just under 10 minutes and the wooziness does settle down so I’d certainly go back.
This Ghostbusters experience was developed with the film’s creator Ivan Reitman and The Void’s CEO is former Lucasfilm technologist Chris Plumer, so the attraction has pedigree. Plumer told the New York Times last month: “I have seen a lot of great VR experiences, and nothing comes close to what the Void is doing. If anything is go- ing to inspire mass consumer adoption of virtual reality, this is it.”
The Void Ghostbusters: Dimension is open 10am till 10pm on weekdays and 10am till 12am on weekends. Tickets cost Dh110 from www.thevoid.com or in person at The Void, The Beach, JBR (close to Roxy Cinemas). Visitors should be at least 1.2 metres tall and 10 years of age due to the weight of equipment and mildly scary sequences. The Void can accommodate groups of one to four.
Since its formation in 2010, the house orchestra for China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts has primarily functioned as a support for visiting maestros and ballets to the venue. But for the past four years it has been making a name for itself in its own right. With members aged between 27 and 31, the NCPA orchestra is seen as representative of China’s future in classical music.
This was underscored on Friday at Emirates Palace at the first of their two Abu Dhabi Festival performances.
The young orchestra’s relationship with conductor Yi Zhang, also the chief conductor of the National Ballet of China, can be best described as parental. Zhang did a fine job in showcasing the ensemble’s dynamism in Tchaikovsky’s Slavonic March.
Laced with a quasi eastern melody, the piece required the full attention of all with its contrasting moods; from brass heavy pomp to the strings sounding like a military march.
Haochen Zhang’s star shone with Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2. The piece was an apt showcase for the 25- year- old, with its varied tempos and shift in emphasis for physical virtuosity to restrained sensitivity – Zhang’s interplay with flute was particularly gorgeous.
The Abu Dhabi Festival theme of tolerance was explored in the final piece of the night, Dvorák Symphony No 9. One can perhaps view this piece as one of the earlier examples of musical fusion, with the exploration of various traditions, from Native American folk to African-America rituals.
The orchestra do a fine job in highlighting Dvorák themes of memory and dreams. Key melodic lines from the first movement return sporadically, but each time explored differently – some brighter and others more ominous. It all added up to create a woozy and almost surreal atmosphere.
There’s something strange in the neighbourhood.