Monday, September 27, 2010
"performers who fly so high above the ground that onlookers have to crane their necks and shade their eyes to see them"
Reporting from Oakland — On most days, the wall at 2201 Broadway that overlooks a downtown parking lot on the corner of Grand Avenue and Broadway draws little attention from passersby. But during the last couple of months, people have stopped in their tracks to gaze up at the hundred-foot-tall, cream-colored façade as dancers suspended from thin climbing ropes rappel down its surface in formation, stopping every now and again to execute slow-motion pirouettes, somersaults and jetés in flouncy mesh underskirts. The performers fly so high above the ground that onlookers have to crane their necks and shade their eyes to see them. Yet their fluid, gravity-defying moves make them look like sea anemones dancing on the ocean floor.
The normally innocuous wall has lately become the site of much activity during rehearsals of Project Bandaloop, a Bay Area-based dance company that seeks its inspiration from rock climbing to create performances on the sides of buildings, cliff faces and other stratospheric surfaces around the globe. Dancers move across the vertical space to recorded music. Riggers stand at the top of the building, making sure the performers are safely strapped into their harnesses and ropes. Sitting in a low-slung deck chair in the parking lot below with a sound system at her feet, a microphone in her right hand and a walkie-talkie in her left, artistic director Amelia Rudolph divides her time between discussing staging details with her design and technical crew and issuing directions to the dancers and riggers above.