‘Bandaloops’ take dancing to the next level at the Utah Arts Festival

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Onstage, the “Bandaloops” dance group members are incredibly talented dancers, but what sets them apart is the harness that saves their lives every time they perform at an outside show.

The “Bandaloops'” stage is not horizontal. They perform on the outsides of buildings, mountains and national landmarks. “Bandaloops,” started back in the 1990s, has gone on many international tours and has performed all over the world. For the second time during the last decade, they are going to visit the Utah Arts Festival and perform on the side of the Salt Lake City Library.

Lisa Sewell is the festival director of the Utah Arts Festival and is excited to bring back “Bandaloops.”

 Bandaloop performers take their lives into their hands every time they perform their vertical dances. (Courtesy Greg Bernstein)
Bandaloop performers take their lives into their hands every time they perform their vertical dances. (Courtesy Greg Bernstein)

“It is something that you would never see here in Salt Lake,” Sewell said. “They are artisans, they are dancers and they are professionals … They dance in a different format than you would normally see.”

Rachael Lincoln, assistant artistic director in “Bandaloops,” has been with the dance troupe for 15 years. She told the story of Amelia Rudolph, who founded Bandaloops 22 years ago. Rudolph had an epiphany about the relationship between climbing and dance when climbing a mountain. The fact that “Bandaloops” has such a unique way of performing on buildings, Lincoln said, allows the group to touch audiences in an unprecedented way.

“One thing that we are really interested in doing is changing perspectives,” Lincoln said. “We treat vertical surfaces like (they are) the floor. When (the performance) is done well, it does something different to the performers brain … It’s like gravity isn’t working the way that we know gravity to work.”

The end result of the new plane of dance is that the audience is forced to open their minds up to new possibilities.

“(We are about) developing moments of disbelief–and therefore creativity–that wasn’t acceptable before,” Lincoln said.

“Bandaloops” also draws a different demographic of audience then dance groups are generally thought to attract in a theater.

“It is not the same group of audience members that you find everywhere else,” Lincoln said. “(The audience) is (a) much much more diverse audience.”

Bandaloop performers said they highly enjoy performing on the Salt Lake City Library because of how reflective the venue is, and how warm the audience can be. (Courtesy Bandaloops)
Bandaloop performers said they highly enjoy performing on the Salt Lake City Library because of how reflective the venue is, and how warm the audience can be. (Courtesy Bandaloops)

Lincoln said the diverse audience is part of the attraction to the “Bandaloops” performances, because “Bandaloops” wants to take art into the public sphere.

“It is really special for us to be in an Arts Festival,” Lincoln said. “We are trying to bring public art into different spaces … We really want to get people to open their minds and get really excited about doing something different.”

Josh Littlefield a 22-year-old finance junior from Orem, says he respects what “Bandaloops” are doing.

“I am pretty impressed,” Littlefield said. “I say that a lot, impressive, just because it really is … On a horizontal plane it is difficult, so I can see it being a lot harder … on a vertical plane, so I really respect the group after what I’ve seen, because that takes a lot of talent, for sure … They’d have to apply everything that you have to do on a horizontal plane, and then add another aspect to it at the same time, like controlling your gravity … and at the same time, make it entertaining for people.”

Littlefield thinks “Bandaloops” is opening up a new field for dance.

“Dance is an art,” Littlefield said. “(“Bandaloops”) is helping people to see the beauty of art … every part of their body is forming this art piece … It opens (the audience’s) eyes and it gives them more joy, and it helps them be able to think outside the box.”

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