Meany Center performance features eye-popping visuals, theatrical depth and the premier of a new work by the highflying aerial artists.
What would dance look like if it were freed from the constraints of gravity?
The daredevils known as BANDALOOP are dedicated to finding out.
BANDALOOP was founded in the early 1990s by dancer Amelia Rudolph. In a preshow talk, Associate Artistic Director Melecio Estrella explained that Rudolph, after taking up mountain climbing, “realized that her dancing body could inform her climbing body and her climbing art could inform her dance art.” The result: aerial works that have been performed on cliffs, bridges and the sides of buildings around the world.
8 p.m. Oct. 6-7, Meany Center for the Performing Arts, University of Washington, Seattle; $35-$52 (206-543-4880 or www.meanycenter.org).
“Shift,” an 11-minute film of the troupe performing on sheer rock faces in Yosemite National Park, demonstrates just how far BANDALOOP takes its mission. (Aerial-dance fans will want to come early to catch the 7:10 p.m. preshow screening of the film.)
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The world premiere of BANDALOOP’s latest work, “Strings,” shows the theatrical depth and verve the company members can conjure from their unusual set of skills.
“Strings” was created with support from Meany Center for the Performing Arts Creative Fellowships Initiative. The Meany Center also commissioned the accompanying score by British composer (and grandson of Sergei Prokofiev) Gabriel Prokofiev.
“The piece is about the various ways we experience connection,” Rudolph says in the program notes. “It’s about how our relationships tug on us and enclose us, or set us free.”
It opens, aptly enough, with a puppet (Jessica McKee) controlled by five string-wielding manipulators. When a figure in brilliant red (Becca Dean) comes McKee’s way, the attraction between them is obvious. But McKee’s controllers, like a disapproving family, aren’t inclined to encourage the relationship — and even Dean appears to have her doubts about getting entangled in the family web.
Similar string-centric episodes follow. After airborne Rachael Lincoln makes a startling upside-down entrance from the rafters, Estrella tries to lure her into his more earthbound world. Their springy mirror-moves — half floating, half grounded — make for a heady, beguiling duet. Its bittersweet conclusion captures what it’s like to leave one world for another.
In another striking passage, five string-constrained dancers are startled when lanky Roel Seeber whooshes in overhead, free to go wherever he wants. He flirts with the idea of joining them — but no. It’s much more fun to soar, bob and zip in time to Prokofiev’s trickily rhythmed score (a tasty blend of electronica and chamber music). The speed and ease with which Seeber flies couldn’t be more natural.
The costuming, lighting and staging (the bungee-cordlike ropes are crimson red) make for eye-popping visuals. Music, movement and relationship dynamics all fuse into a perfect package.
“Harboring,” which opens the show, has tour-de-force elements but lacks the theatrical cohesion of “Strings.” The first half, free for anyone to see, takes place at 8 p.m. outside Meany Hall and involves “multidimensional” high jinks — jitterbug dancing, militaristic maneuvers — performed on the wall of the building. “Harboring” continues inside (ticket required) with a dandy aerial duet by Estrella and Lincoln (half courtship, half one-upmanship) and a moody, spiraling solo by Seeber among the highlights.