On April 18, 1970, in lower Manhattan, a man walked down the side of a building. Super casual. Can you imagine what the unsuspecting passersby must have thought? I’m thinking something along the lines of “That man is jumping off a building—someone save him!”
Hopefully any initial panic subsided once onlookers realized that the man was walking—quite slowly, actually–and not jumping. This was not some sort of freak occurrence. It was dance. More specifically, it was Trisha Brown’s Man Walking Down the Side of a Building. Aptly named, huh?
I’ll admit, I was somewhat skeptical when I first saw this piece. I thought, “That’s not dance!” But then last week, I stumbled upon Project Bandaloop. Founded in 1991 by Amelia Rudolph, Bandaloop is a dance troupe that experiments with what they call “vertical dance performance”—aka dance on its side. Back in 2010, DS had a conversation with company member Rachel Lincoln, after the group performed on the 50-story Thanksgiving Tower in Dallas, TX. But apparently, I’ve been out of the [Banda]loop, considering I just recently heard about this awesome dance troupe!
Here’s a demo reel of their work, just in case you’re also out of the [Banda]loop.
When I began scanning through videos of their various site-specific performances, I immediately remembered Trisha Brown’s Man Walking Down the Side of a Building. And I think that’s when I started to get it.
The cool thing about dance, and art in general, is that different generations play off one another. I’m not saying that without Trisha Brown, Bandaloop would never have existed. But she definitely laid down some serious groundwork for them. She made people ask themselves: “What is dance?” and “What is a stage?” And isn’t art all about making you think?
Trisha Brown (who will be 77 in November!) announced last January that she is retiring. Her company is currently on a 3-year international farewell tour. They’re also working to compile a bunch of her materials–videos, notebooks, etc.–online. But it’s nice to think that if her company does go the way of the late Merce Cunningham’s, Trisha Brown’s influence will live on! And I’m sure Bandaloop isn’t the only company benefiting from her legacy.
OK, I promise I’m done philosophizing for today…it is Saturday, after all! But I’ll leave you with this video that sort of brings it all together. Last Spring, Amelia Rudolph had the opportunity to perform Man Walking Down the Side of a Building, or rather (Wo)Man Walking Down the Side of a Building, at UCLA. Generations collide! Read about her thoughts on the experience. And here’s that video I promised you: