Cirque du Soleil Is Incorporating Drones

As drones become less novel, it’s not surprising that they’re showing up in national parks, Kanye West’s nightmares, and live music. So Cirque du Soleil is trying to make sure that it’s hip to the haps.

Instead of making a weird interpretive drone dance—which is what I was worried/hoped this would be—the company put together a short in which a dancer, who plays an electrician, interacts with beautiful quadcopters as they buzz around.

One particularly great moment comes when the electrician is trying to figure out what’s going on with a bunch of lamps that have shorted out, and the drones rise behind him and then land again before he realizes that they’re there.

Cirque du Soleil partnered with researchers from the Swiss university ETH Zurich to choreograph the movement of the drones. The whole short was shot in one take and there aren’t any special effects, just a computer tracking position inputs from the quadcopters 200 times per second in order to coordinate and control them.

The making-of video below explains more, but it’s almost nicer to just watch the short and see how seamlessly technology can integrate into art.