Dancing on Air

With nylon ropes and steely nerves, Project Bandaloop performs high above the crowds

Wikimedia Commons

When the Project Bandaloop dancers get ready "backstage" it's not anything like what happens at Lincoln Center. Instead of performing on a horizontal stage, Bandaloopers dance vertically while hanging off the sides of buildings, cliffs and towers. Since 1991, they've performed at such venues as the Seattle Space Needle, Pacific cliffs in California's Marin County and the Vasco da Gama Tower in Lisbon, Portugal. We join the troupe 2,500 feet above Yosemite Valley, where they are filming sequences that will be part of the world premiere of Luminescent Flights. The new dance was commissioned by the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, and will debut September 8, 2000, as the first in Wolf Trap's "Face of America" series.

The troupe, including founder and artistic director, Amelia Rudolph, is made up of six dancers as well as riggers and technical support people. The dancers wear standard climbing harnesses and use specialized climbing equipment to get up and down the ropes. The riggers' job is to anchor the ropes and make sure everything is "bomber," or safe. Everyone's safety must be assured before Project Bandaloop can go on to astound audiences with their unique form of artistic expression.

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