In 2001, dancer/climber Amelia Rudolph, seven members of her Project Bandaloop dance troupe, and a team of riggers went on an eighteen-day trek in the Sierra, but they didn't just camp out -- they performed vertical and horizontal dance pieces suspended in full harness on a 1,200-foot cliff face in Tuolumne Meadows, complete with live music. "Our composer came hiking with us, with a violin strapped to his back, and played on a small ledge below us," Rudolph remembers. A TV video crew tagged along to record the sight, but the footage got shelved in the media frenzy of 9/11. They've done similar stunts in South Africa, Argentina, and Portugal.
Cut to a warehouse at 1919 Market Street in West Oakland, where Rudolph and seven Bandaloop dancers are doing an in-town version of the piece, Crossings: Stories of Gravity and Transformation, for four performances beginning Thursday, June 5. The Oakland-based Rudolph has already come a long way with "Crossings" and plans to literally take it to the heights. "This is not a premiere," she declares. "It's definitely a work in progress." The dancers/aerialists twirl and pose midair on two large vertical trampoline-like walls while videos of their Sierra adventure are projected on the white trampolines and cliff-dwelling violinist Zachary Carrettin performs the score. It's supposed to convey "the abstracted beauty of natural elements." Thankfully, no one has fallen. Says Rudolph, who came to the great outdoors from a modern dance background: "We spend a lot of time thinking about risk management. But our real mission is to bring images of nature and its vulnerability to our audience."
Bandaloop moved into the raw, unfinished 7,300-square-foot Market Street space three months ago and is negotiating to make it the troupe's permanent home. It's near McClymonds High School, where Rudolph has worked with the Destiny Arts youth performers. But a lot of movement is in Bandaloop's future, including dates at Washington, DC's Kennedy Center and in Italy. "This show is built to tour," laughs Rudolph. Thursday through Saturday shows are at 9 p.m., Sunday at 8:30. Tickets: $10-$15 from 510-451-5667 or www.projectbandaloop.org
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