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Saturday August 19, 2001
Climbing At Yosemite
Isn't What It Used To Be!
With nylon ropes & steely nerves Project Bandaloop
performs Yosemite Falls ballet high above Merced River.

Compiled by Amy Williams, Staff Research

Photo - Pete McBrideYOSEMITE VALLEY -- Unlike most conventional choreography and dance, the Bandaloop Project that recently visited Yosemite avoids an on-site public audience.
     Though some may venture out to watch the performance live, this is art made in the vast silence of the wilderness.
    It is a performance without traditional trappings. The performers do not know the "script" of the action before they set out.
     The site-specific nature of the dance and the story of the event will unfold during the process.
     Project Bandaloop is committed to respecting the wilderness and will adhere to low impact ethics. In ten years of performances, we have only once placed bolts once to rig a dance (hand drilled, within park regulation and removed afterwards).
    The circumstances of that rig were complex and unfortunately we made a decision, out of line with our traditional ethic, that received the biggest press to date.
     No bolts are used to rig the dances for th
is mountaineering and dance project, that traverses the Sierra Nevada. In the mountain segment, Project Bandaloop, works together as a group to make dances over 20 days in the Yosemite mountains while crossing the Sierra.
     Along the route the performer-mountaineers create site-specific dances in the form of scored improvisation and choreography on the ground and on the rock faces. Conceptually, the piece explores crossing from one state of being into another, from one water shed to another.
     The daily mindset of urban culture is left behind and the cast is asked to create and perform in the isolation of mountain spaces.
     Initiated as a proposed performance piece for the summer of 2000 with an application for funding to thePhoto - Pete McBride Creative Capital in 1999, the project has now become a reality in the summer of 2001.
     The piece has also grown into a three year project with further funding from the James Irvine Foundation that is for creating an urban multi media dance piece based on the mountain traverse that will premiere at urban performance sites in 2002-2003.
    The project requires a variety of skills including but not limited to low impact travel through the mountains, dancing, climbing, rigging, logistics, videography, composing and playing music and carrying gear.
     Making dances in this context, the cast is inspired and challenged. The physical, topographical, interpersonal, and meteorological challenges are outweighed by the landscapes and light offered by these mountains.
     They approach this project with a strong sense of teamwork and climbing skills essential to orchestrating the scope of the technical and artistic capabilities of the group.
     The choreographer draws from the imagery of the landscape and from animals that live along the route. The performance utilizes various aspects of the landscape from horizontal valleys and ridges to vertical faces of boulders and grand vertical sweeps of cliffs to inspire movement.
     The details of the choreography draw on the techniques they have developed over the last ten years using ropes, harnesses and anchors to allow for the vertical plane to become a dance floor.
     The natural movement such as wind, rain, the fall of gravity, the jutting of rock, the flow of a river and stillness of a boulder evoke movement and expression of ideas.
     Animals such as marmots, coyote, small birds, falcons, bear and mice are other sources of movement design and conception. Observations of the environment and its inhabitants allow for the co-existence of the dance, the dancers, the animals and the land.
     The climbing route becomes a "stage" for a dance that exists throughout the project, unifying the process with the performance.
Stillness is as important to this project as all the effort and movement.

    [Editor's Note: Project Bandaloop dancers, climbers and riggers are under the artistic direction of Amelia Rudolph, and collaborate to create a blend of dance, sport, ritual, and environmental awareness. Exploring the boundaries of dance and performance, their work seeks to honor nature, community, and the human spirit through art.  Inspired by the possibilities of climbing and repelling, the choreography relies on aerial, vertical and horizontal movement to craft site-specific dances.   The challenge of performing in a wide variety of venues, ranging from urban towers and skyscrapers to boulder fields and large granite cliffs, helps free both the dance and dance space from convention.    The groupıs work marries modern dance and rock climbing, culture and nature, mortality and celebration. Project Bandaloop hopes to enrich the quality of life and educate the public by stimulating viewersı awareness of their natural and built environments, and by reaching out through free appearances to new audiences unfamiliar with contemporary dance forms. For more information click on the Bandaloop Project or see The Smithsonan Magazine, Vol 31.No. 6. pp. 87-92.]

Letter to the Editor


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Nature Notes
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
     -- John Muir, 1901

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