A space opera film shot inside CERN’s large hadron collider, combines opera, dance, digital art and physics to create a visual narrative that explores the philosophical elements of the largest machine in the world.

If Neil deGrasse Tyson’s version of ‘Cosmos’ hasn’t convinced you of the beautiful drama hidden within the scientific community, perhaps this dance opera will twist your arm in the right direction.
The Huffington Post

the cosmos revealed to a scientist dancing

For the first time a fictional narrative was allowed to be filmed inside the actual particle accelerator of CERN in Geneva Switzerland, the largest science laboratory in the world. The story in the film Symmetry (30 min) is about a physicist (played by choreographer Lukas Timulak) who’s failing colliding atoms to find a “theory of everything”. When he hears a voice echoing musically in the endless tunnel deep underground, he falls into the accelerator machine and ends up in an infinite landcape: the moment before the Big Bang. This is where he meets the personification of music, art, inner Self… (played by soprano Claron McFadden). And after a conflicting group dance with his fellow physicists, the Theory he was looking for as a scientist reveals to him finally being transformed into a dancer…

The accompanying documentary Symmetry Unravelled (25 min) seeks to find answers about the connections between science and art, within a contemporary setting. Starring CERN particle physicists Michael Doser, John Ellis and science theorist Robbert Dijkgraaf elaborating on the subject with collaborating artists of the film project.

Symmetry expresses the two sides of our understanding, one rational, the other emotional, and sets the opera in CERN and a Bolivian salt flat to contrast the human-made machines with the vastness of nature.

fusing opera, choreography, digital art, and physics

We collided digital choreographic data with open source CERN data to create a visual epiphany of the main characters in the story of the film. More text here…



writer & director: Ruben Van Leer
cinematography: Paul Ozgur
starring: Claron McFadden & Lukas Timulak
dancers: Joeri Dubbe, Celia Amade, Casar Faria Fernandes & Shirley Esseboom
music: Joep Franssens & Henry Vega
libretto: Stan Lapinski
dramaturgy: Martin Butler
editing: Amber Hooijmans
visual effects: Tom Geraedts & David Zaagsma
compositing: Bart Van Brussel & Ruben Van Leer
point clouds: Mickey van Olst, Christian Loclair & Cedric Kiefer (OnFormative)
data processing: Jurrien Steenkamp & Frederik Vanhoutte
art direction: Barnaby Monk (Herbert Luciole) & Judith Veenendaal
costume design: Anne De Grijff
line-producers: Pavel Ananich & Inge Zoete
producers: Sander Verdonk, Denis Wigman & Ruben Van Leer
produced by: CTM Pictures, NTR &
with support of: NL Filmfonds, Fonds 21, Creative Industries Fund & NTR
powered by: Arts@CERN, Zoller+Fröhlich & Microsoft

filmmaker & media-artist