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My review in the Chronicle:
“Our locally based Project Bandaloop hasn’t been seen much in Bay Area theaters for years. Amelia Rudolph’s troupe of athlete-dancers, all skilled rock climbers, seems more likely to be spotted rappelling down Seattle’s Space Needle or bounding off Yosemite’s El Capitan.
But for “Interiors,” which opened at Fort Mason’s Cowell Theater Thursday and continues through Sunday, Rudolph has taken the show indoors, with interestingly bifurcated results. The first half brings what Bandaloop does so well in the open air up close, the better to marvel at these gravity-testing movers’ sinuous muscle and sculptural control. The second half, the California premiere of Rudolph’s “Interiors: Phase One,” works so hard at repackaging Bandaloop for the traditional stage that the qualities that make this company worth gawking at get lost.
Aerial dance is a popular genre with deep roots in the Bay Area. For Bandaloop’s 17 years, Rudolph has been at the forefront, and this show’s opening parade of short pieces proves why. In this year’s “Thick,” 10 dancers strewn with kelp-like strips of fabric hang from the rafters, contracting and bobbing, twirling as though underwater. In “Tango Vals,” Mark Stuver and Rachael Lincoln rendezvous longingly, he suspended, she clutching to join him swinging above the floor. In “Inverted Duets,” the tango goes upside down, three couples pushing against each other’s feet to levitate like planks.
The most memorable pieces tilt the viewer’s axis. In “One of Each,” Roel Seeber really does seem to be performing ballet steps against the stage’s sidewall as though it were terra firma. And in “Shift,” also new this year, we get the exhilarating feeling of watching six dancers from overhead as they race against a blue- and pink-lit back wall.
Mere stunts these are not: Rudolph choreographs with a true dancer’s eye to line and form, and her works have formal and emotional trajectories. What she doesn’t have is much beyond a cursory musicality – she tends to use her music, mostly either blandly electronic or quirkily atmospheric, like wallpaper – or a gift for gesture and theatrical timing. This might be due in part to her medium: When you’re working in the air, unsurprisingly, movements tend to take on a floating, slow-motion feeling. And yet even on the ground, as in Melecio Estrella and Stuver’s “Men’s Duet,” the interaction looks stilted, too deliberate.
Unfortunately, musicality, theatrical timing and fresh gesture are just what Rudolph’s new “Interiors” needs. ”
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