Shaken by the dark sky and icy winds, most students rushed home after classes Friday afternoon. Behind the Memorial Union, though, a brave bunch huddled on the Terrace for a spectacular show by a vertical dance troupe. This was not just another funky jazz ensemble that Madisonians have come to enjoy.
The performers were even braver than the shivering audience—they had just arrived from Ankara, Turkey. Despite the drastic change in temperature, Bandaloop—an aerial spectacle consisting of six incredibly talented, gravity-defying dancers—managed to put on quite a show.
Founder Amelia Rudolph began to construct the group and its act more than 20 years ago when her interests in competitive rock climbing and modern dance merged into one. After holding auditions at various universities and gathering up the best performers, Bandaloop began with acts that took place on the edges of cliffs and across mountaintops. It was only in later years that they began to hold acts in big cities and urban settings.
Performing on the side of the Union’s newly-renovated west wing, the group started off with flips, jumps and swinging. Later on, they switched it up with two of their performers carrying out a jazzy swing act. Keep in mind, this was all happening at a 90-degree angle while leaping over one another and twirling in midair.
They also managed to include a poetic element in their act. As one of the performers sat on a chair—once again, remember that this all took place on the side of the building, at a 90-degree angle—he spit honest words about his personal life, the way society views him and the way he views society’s vision of him.
Finally, the group finished up with a strong yet graceful set involving all six performers. Using a Spiderman-like technique, they were able to scale the walls in order to reach one another and then use force to propel each other in various directions. Although their movements were quick and chaotic, their choreography and synchronization illustrated grace.
The audience produced many “oohs” and “aahs” throughout the performance, as would be expected from an act comparable to a dance recital on the moon. And what is a show on the Terrace without fun, family-friendly humor? As the dancers prepared to belay themselves down the wall, a man in the audience shouted, “Look out!” I thought it was hilarious, and apparently, so did the rest of the audience because the joke prompted many well-deserved laughs.
The act was surreal and artistically unnatural. A little girl in the crowd explained the performance best to her mother when she said, “It was very pretty.”