Vertical dance is set to return to the University of Wyoming campus this weekend in a new venue.
“Outside Inside Downside Up” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Thrust Theatre in the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts.
Admission is free, but food and cash donations will be accepted to benefit a local nonprofit organization.
Vertical dance, conducted on a vertical plane using climbing equipment, has been an end-of-summer Laramie tradition since 1998. Performances have taken place on the rock faces of Vedauwoo as well as at the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center and Physical Sciences Building on campus.
Director Margaret Wilson said the Thrust Theater, which is new to campus since the renovation of the Buchanan Center, is a “fantastic place” for vertical dance.
The theater offers lots of places to anchor rigging, providing a variety of spaces for dancers to move in. Also, the stage configuration provides different viewing angles for some audience members, which adds a new element.
“Sometimes when we perform at Vedauwoo and even on the stage, everybody sees the same view, so we’re actually very excited about that,” Wilson said.
The seven-piece production, developed with the input of two student choreographers, includes pieces where dancers will perform above or behind the audience.
“The audience will get to see the dancers — how much control they have, how hard they’re working, and yet how effortlessly they make it work,” Wilson said.
One piece grew out of a student project in a vertical dance class.
“I learn a lot from my students, so it’s really fun to be able to showcase their ideas and help them build on their ideas,” Wilson said.
This summer’s vertical dance production was intended for Vedauwoo until several factors, including injuries, forced a change of plans, Wilson said. Instead of canceling the production, the department moved it to an indoor venue, where ease of rigging allowed more time to focus on choreography.
“We figured that was a worthy trade-off, to expand our vocabulary and come up with more challenging choreography for the students by working inside,” she said.
Musical trio Lights Along the Shore will accompany the production with original compositions and adaptations of international music. Consisting of Rod Garnett on flute, Blake McGee on bass clarinet and Lisa Rickard on keyboard and piano, the group has long worked with vertical dancers at UW.
Wilson said the musicians have a knack for adjusting their tempo to suit the dancers, who are limited in the timing of their movements by the swing of the rope and their distance from the anchor.
“They’re really wonderful people to work with, so we’re always delighted when they say yes,” Wilson said.
Vertical dance is expected to return to Vedauwoo in summer 2018.