Underwater magic: Hidden tech behind Cirque du Soleil’s ‘O’

id=”article-body” class=”row” section=”article-body”> Now playing: Watch this: Staging Cirque du Soleil: The technology behind ‘O’ 2:12 There’s something eerie about seeing 1.5 million gallons of water up close.

I’m standing in the dark — 17 feet underground — pressed up against a massive tank while swimmers and divers glide in and out of view.

Down here, I feel a long way from the noisy Las Vegas strip.

This tank is arguably one of the most famous attractions in Vegas. Ten times a week for the last 18 years, swimmers, acrobats, high divers and contortionists have been diving into this water and skating across its surface as part of Cirque du Soleil’s water-themed show, “O.”

As a mad theatre nerd, this show is my Xanadu (the place, not the theatrical production). But going behind the scenes I could see just how much work and technological wizardry goes into putting this show on every night. From the hydraulic stage that drops away to reveal a 17-foot deep pool to the countless set pieces that move around high above stage, all automated to within a fraction of a second, “O” is a technical marvel.

Disappearing act
Before “O” opened to the public in October 1998, Cirque du Soleil was already well known for its epic productions and unique staging. But the construction of the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas in the late ’90s presented a new opportunity: a custom-built theatre and a blank slate.

So what do you do when you build in Vegas? You start with a pool, of course. And www.gaiaonline.com (Visit Gaiaonline) if you’re going to do a water show, why not do it with a 1.5 million gallon tank?