Dancing on top of the world

A Vertical dance company Bandaloop cast member hangs against the cliff face of the massif The Rostrum at Yosemite National Park. (Courtesy photo)

On Tuesday, Aug. 6, about 30 people gathered at South Park High School’s media room for an opportunity to meet and talk with the founder and dancers of the internationally-acclaimed vertical dance company Bandaloop.

Attendees were also treated to a viewing of a short mountain film, “Coyote Waltz,” shot at Yosemite National Park, in which the dancers performed on and around a massif known as The Rostrum.

Gasps were heard around the room as they watched the dancers on screen gracefully move in a seemingly effortless waltz, using a sheer cliff as a sideways dance floor while attached to climbing ropes.

In other scenes, the troupe smoothly dipped and swayed in a playful, bare-footed dance on the top of the 1,000 foot granite monolith with stunning views of the mountain scenery as a backdrop.

In the words of founder and artistic director, Amelia Rudolph, “Coyote Waltz leads us to reflect on our relationship to natural spaces and what our relationship to these spaces stirs in us.” Rudolph noted that their unconventional presentations often drew people who had never contemplated attending a dance performance. Rudolph is a pioneer in vertical dance and has presented over 250 performances on seven continents in the last 28 years.

At the end of the film, questions flew as the audience wanted to know more about the company’s art. When asked if the performers were first climbers and then became dancers, the response from one of the experienced dancers was, “No, I just began climbing a couple of months ago.”

A young girl in the audience asked, “Are you afraid when you’re dancing up there?” The answer was that fear is a healthy response as they begin to perform their carefully choreographed dance, but after repeated practices, “You begin to immerse yourself in the joy and spirit of the dance itself.”

The Coyote Waltz was planned and practiced for about three years before going on site for the 2016 National Park Centennial, but Rudolph added that in the inspiration of the actual location some of the choreography was added extemporaneously. The group also performs in urban settings, often suspended from towering skyscrapers or constructed towers.

The dance company is in the area in preparation for indoor performances at the Breckenridge International Festival of the Arts. Their performances are free, but will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. They will be performing at Riverwalk Center on Friday, Aug. 16, at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and on Saturday, Aug. 17, on the same schedule.  (There will also be a free rehearsal at The Village Plaza on Thursday, Aug. 15, at 5 and 7 p.m.)

“We are delighted that Bandaloop took the time to share their experiences with our art lovers in Park County,” said Park County Creative Alliance Executive Director, Ann Lukacs

“Since our formation at the start of the year, we’ve been able to offer a number of events and even more opportunities for our Park County creative people to network with each other and promote their art.”

 More alliance events are forthcoming with a Meet and Greet scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 18, in Hartsel. “We want to be represented in as many places around the county as possible to see what our creative people need and want and how we can all work together,” said Alliance Board Member Linda Balough.

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