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Comments & Curiosities: In the air and on the sand

October 02, 2010|By Peter Buffa

Two interesting happenings this week. One is over, one is not.

The one that's in the history books is Project Bandaloop. Funny name but an unbelievable performance. Have you ever been to the Performing Arts Center? I have. Have you ever jumped off the Performing Arts Center? Me neither.

The Project Bandaloop dancers have, although dancers is a misnomer. It's more like dancer-gymnast-rock climber-rappelling people. Picture a contemporary dance troupe in action, except with the stage floor flipped vertically and standing on edge. Three evenings this week, the Project Bandaloop troupe danced, so to speak, across the 90-foot sheer face of the Performing Arts Center, in mid-air, dangling from ropes. Incredible. It takes your brain a while to decide if it's supposed to be impressed, touched or terrified. It's a kind of a Cirque du Soleil-Nadia Comeneci-Evel Knievel-Rudolf Nureyev thing.

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They are all very accomplished dance professionals who just happen to be, well, what would you call it? Wait, I know – totally insane. Yeah, that's it.

Project Bandaloop is the brainchild of choreographer Amelia Rudolph, who envisioned the heart-stopping concept while rock climbing and rappelling in the Sierras. In the 20 or so years since then, Project Bandaloop has performed its mind-bending ballets for more than a half-million people, using iconic structures and rock formations around the world as its stage, including Leaning Tower and El Capitan in Yosemite, the Dolomites in Italy, The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and the Grand Auditorium in Macau. You really have to see it to believe it. If you missed the troupe's high-flying performances this week, you can see them caught on tape on YouTube or the group's website – http://www.projectbandaloop.org.

The performances are as intricate and graceful as any you've ever seen, except for the fact that they're doing it in the air, a hundred feet above the ground. I'm guessing the Project Bandaloop dancers are really, really nice to the riggers. I know I would be. If I were a Bandaloop dancer I would never let a rigger pay for a drink, ever, and I would be forever telling them how wonderful they are and how great they look. Want a local connection? We got that. Not only is Sage Hill School's outstanding dance teacher Rachael Lincoln a proud Project Bandaloop dancer, but she has been bandalooping with the group for some 12 years. And I thought I spent a lot of time in the air.

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