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The custom built 'O' stage

Underwater

Rehearsal

Safety divers

Breathing underwater

Coming down for air

Props behind the scenes

Lifting the stage

Controlling the hydraulics

Up in the rafters

High divers

In control

The carousel

The lighting control booth

Working on the high grid

Setting the stage

Waiting for their cue

'O'

The "O" Theatre at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, home of "O" by Cirque du Soleil for more than 18 years.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET

The "O" Theatre is built around a 1.5-million gallon pool that drops 17 feet below the rest of the stage. The theatre and the massive water tank were custom-built for Cirque during the construction of the Bellagio, before the casino's opening in 1998.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET

"O" features spectacular synchronised swimming, high dives, acrobatics and aerials, all of which takes place in, around and above the 1.5-million gallon pool.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET

Synchronised swimmers rehearse their routine in the afternoon, ahead of their nightly performance. There are two shows a night, five nights a week in the 1,800-seat theatre.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET

There are 14 safety divers in the pool for the duration of every performance of "O." Two of these divers wear full face masks so they can speak to the control booth during the performance.

Caption by / Photo by Cirque du Soleil

During parts of the show, performers need to stay under water for as long as 90 seconds at a time. Regulators allow swimmers to breathe underwater during the performance, and 24 underwater speakers allow the SCUBA-certified performers to hear music and cues.

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One of the "O" safety divers holds breathing regulators for the performers.

Caption by / Photo by Cirque du Soleil

A giant umbrella, which serves as a boat in the "O" production, sits backstage.

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The 53 by 90 foot stage is segmented into four parts, controlled by sophisticated hydraulic lifts. The seven lifts can raise the stage from the floor of the pool, 17 feet below, to 18 inches above water level.

Caption by / Photo by Cirque du Soleil

The hydraulic controls backstage.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET

Stage level is just the beginning of the "O" performance. The show takes place from the depths of the 17-foot pool to 60 feet above the stage -- a team of four high-divers leaps from that height in every show.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET

High above the stage, four divers prepare to leap into the water below.

Caption by / Photo by Cirque du Soleil

Up in the lighting booth, crew control every element of the show, with a view of what's going on backstage on the screens above them.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET

This massive rotating carousel in the scaffolding high above centre stage raises, lowers and rotates performers and props.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET

A technician works high above the stage, more than 60 feet up, preparing for the night's show.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET

Two hours before the show starts, the final props and set pieces are moved into place.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET

Performers wait for their cue beneath the water.

Caption by / Photo by Cirque du Soleil

The final performance, featuring costumes by Dominique Lemieux.

Caption by / Photo by Cirque du Soleil
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