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Project Bandaloop gets ready to dance on walls in Costa Mesa

September 25, 2010 | 11:00 am
Bandaloop On most days, the wall at 2201 Broadway that overlooks a downtown Oakland parking lot on the corner of Grand Avenue and Broadway draws little attention from passersby. But during the last couple of months, people have stopped in their tracks to gaze up at the hundred-foot-tall, cream-colored facade as dancers suspended from thin climbing ropes rappel down its surface in formation, stopping every now and again to execute slow-motion pirouettes, somersaults and jetés in flouncy mesh underskirts. The performers fly so high above the ground that onlookers have to crane their necks and shade their eyes to see them. Yet their fluid, gravity-defying moves make them look like sea anemones dancing on the ocean floor.

The normally innocuous wall has lately become the site of much activity during rehearsals of Project Bandaloop, a Bay Area-based dance company that seeks its inspiration from rock climbing to create performances on the sides of buildings, cliff faces and other stratospheric surfaces around the globe. Dancers move across the vertical space to recorded music. Riggers stand at the top of the building, making sure the performers are safely strapped into their harnesses and ropes. Sitting in a low-slung deck chair in the parking lot below with a sound system at her feet, a microphone in her right hand and a walkie-talkie in her left, artistic director Amelia Rudolph divides her time between discussing staging details with her design and technical crew and issuing directions to the dancers and riggers above. "Can you hear me?" she says into the microphone to a solo performer suspended halfway up the wall. "Does it help if I add reverb? Can you hear me now?"

Toward the end of the month, the wall will be restored to its usual state of blankness when Project Bandaloop temporarily transfers its operations to another surface of similarly epic dimensions — the pinkish facade of Segerstrom Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. There, for three free performances Thursday to Saturday, the company will perform the world premiere of "IdEgo," a piece commissioned by OCPAC to launch its new season. Project Bandaloop will also perform a revised work from its repertoire titled "The Ninth Second."

Continue reading about the creative process for Bandloop's "IdEgo" and the Orange County performances.

-- Chloe Veltman

Photo by Doug Gifford