Gravity-defying dancers mark 20 years 

Project Bandaloop is a troupe known for dancing in unusual spaces — from skyscrapers to mountains. (Courtesy photo) - PROJECT BANDALOOP IS A TROUPE KNOWN FOR DANCING IN UNUSUAL SPACES — FROM SKYSCRAPERS TO MOUNTAINS. (COURTESY PHOTO)
  • Project Bandaloop is a troupe known for dancing in unusual spaces — from skyscrapers to mountains. (Courtesy photo)
  • Project Bandaloop is a troupe known for dancing in unusual spaces — from skyscrapers to mountains. (Courtesy photo)

Dancers have been leaping in the air for centuries. But what about ascending?

The Bay Area’s Project Bandaloop has been tackling gravity on a perpendicular plane for two decades, and it is celebrating its 20th anniversary with its first full-length work, “Bound(less).”

Free performances are slated for Sept. 15-18 in Oakland, and sneak previews will be held in San Francisco’s Mint Plaza next week.  

Project Bandaloop has come a long way from its humble beginnings as what Artistic Director Amelia Rudolph describes as “a bunch of nutty people trying to do something.”  

The troupe, which Rudolph coins as a “vertical dance” company, has performed on and around a variety of impressive structures, manmade and natural. Seattle’s Space Needle, New York skyscrapers, Yosemite’s El Capitan, the Norwegian fjords, the Italian Dolomites and museums and libraries all have had Bandaloop dancers hoisted alongside them, twisting and twirling in territories previously uncharted by a dance company.

A rock-climbing hike in 1989 brought Rudolph to new heights, both creatively and spiritually, sparking the concept behind Bandaloop.

“I was high on a cliff in this intense mental and physical place,” Rudolph says. “There was a heightened sense of mortality and vulnerability, but there was also a power that I took in from the world below and the space around me. I wanted to make art about that.”

A formally trained dancer as well as a rock climber, Rudolph says she “unlearned” aspects of her studies in order to move closer to her personal choreographic vision.

Holding degrees in comparative religious studies, particularly in Eastern religions, Rudolph’s interest in the essence of ritual and its spiritual resonance influences her work and its execution.

Bandaloop’s performances are often free in public spaces, or in humble structures where passers-by can easily see them. Rudolph believes in providing access to art, and hopes Bandaloop’s work may give pause.

“It’s about bringing some magic and mystery, and dare I say, something a little sacred to a mundane space,” Rudolph says.  “At our best I hope we’re doing that. It’s about changing people’s perspectives, celebrating their spaces, and making them question their assumptions about what dance and gravity can look like.”

“Bound(less)” features text, props and costumes, including one single dress worn by three dancers. The commissioned music is composed by Dana Leong and performed by his ensemble.  


Presented by Project Bandaloop

Great Wall, Grand Avenue and Broadway, Oakland
When: 8:30 p.m. Sept. 15-17
Tickets: Free, but seats available for $35 from

Note: Excerpts will be presented in free shows at 12:30 p.m. Thursday and 5 p.m. Sept. 9 in Mint Plaza, Fifth Street between Market and Mission streets, San Francisco.

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Lauren Gallagher

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