They bound high from rocky outcroppings that resemble the surface of the moon. They spin out across expanses of blue sky. Dressed in climbing shoes, mountaineering gear, and billowy costumes, the dancers of Project Bandaloop inhabit a world quite different from the proscenium stage or rehearsal studio. The troupe is probably the only dance company in existence whose personnel includes a "risk manager," riggers, and a renowned rock climber, Steve Schneider. Its "stages" have ranged from the Vasco da Gama Tower in Lisbon to Yosemite Falls. In August, the company filmed its 65-mile journey, 11,000 feet high, across the rugged Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, for a multimedia piece titled Crossing, to be performed next year at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. This month Bandaloop performs from September 1 to 3 at Seattle's Bumbershoot festival.
Amelia Rudolph, who trained in dance in her native Chicago, founded the Oakland-based troupe ten years ago after taking up rock climbing. The company is named after a freewheeling dance performed by fantasy Himalayan creatures in Tom Robbins' novel Jitterbug Perfume. Ironically enough, the freedom of competing with birds has given Rudolph "a renewed love for the subtleties and nuances of just moving on the ground."