Body in Motion: Climber Natalija Gros in Le Tango Vertical

3

August 18, 2015 by katmcdaniel

The human body is capable of impressive feats. Is there an artistic and creative element present in athletic accomplishment?

When Natalija Gros retired from competitive rock climbing in 2012, she was recognized as one of the finest climbers in the world. The Slovenian athlete made it to the World Cup podium an astonishing 23 times during her career, also carrying off a silver in 2004 at the European Championships and a gold in 2008 in Paris at The European Bouldering and Combined Championship. She won the coveted Serre Chevalier Master in both 2004 and 2009.

Rock climbing isn’t a glamorous sport. Hands, elbows, shoulders and knees get scraped, wounded and calloused. Even with hooks and ropes, climbers regularly find themselves jerked into the air, swinging painfully against rocks. This doesn’t even hold a candle to what can happen without equipment. This short film by Jure Breceljnik called Le Tango Vertical, or The Vertical Tango, shows a completely different side than most climbing videos: artsy, sensual and alluring.

After a swim, Gros comes out of the ocean in her bikini and proceeds to climb, completely unaided, a rock formation along the beach. Granted, it isn’t the Alps nor Yosemite, but it isn’t safe either.

There are two main forms of rock climbing: aid climbing and free climbing. Aid climbing involves the use of ropes and pegs in the rock to pull the climber up the face of a cliff. Free climbing may also include the use of ropes and pegs, but only to protect the climber in case of a slip or fall.  Free climbers prize the sense of achievement and artistry that come from developing a close relationship to the vertical surface. This allows them to compose a route that traverses that surface, called a line. This route is unique, suited to their own body and skill set.

Climbing, like life, is never without risk, never completely safe. Ropes can break, pegs can become dislodged. Gros has chosen to forego such gear completely, feeling that she can handle this formation without them. And she can. What amazing physical strength and confidence! Watch her stomach muscles to see how much squeeze she maintains while holding on, thinking, and moving. She possesses unbelievable core and arm strength. I don’t know about you, but I’d be jelly up there.

Still from Le Tango Vertical

Still from Le Tango Vertical

Le Tango Vertical is an apt title. Like a tango dancer, Gros moves in a practiced, sensual way, sometimes slowly and smoothly, sometimes aggressively and decisively, feeling her way across the stone shelves. She must know them intimately in order to gauge that they will hold her weight. She must also know the limits of her own body to avoid overextending herself.

This isn’t the only film of Natalija Gros. She is the subject of Breceljnik’s documentary Chalk and Chocolate and was also featured in his documentary New Dimension, which delves into urban bouldering in Argentina. Amazing work from both artists.

Natalija Gros being filmed by Jure Beceljnik for Chalk and Chocolate. This portrait was commisioned by Mladina weekly. © Borut Peterlin, used in accordance with Fair Use Policy

Natalija Gros being filmed by Jure Beceljnik for Chalk and Chocolate. This portrait was commisioned by Mladina weekly and is designed to poke fun at the contrast between climber and artist, thus the comfy red chair. In reality, both the climber and artist had to do some crazy things to get the footage they captured.
© Borut Peterlin, used in accordance with Fair Use Policy

Sadly, Jure Breceljnik died two months ago in 2015. If you would like to know more about this talented man, a graduate of the Film and TV School of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, please read this tribute from his friend and colleague Borut Peterlin.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Body in Motion: Climber Natalija Gros in Le Tango Vertical

  1. Jure died two months ago, so that’s 2015. Thank you such a great article. My portrait was more like a caricature of an artist vs. a climber, of course. Thx for sharing.

    • katmcdaniel says:

      Thank you so much, Borut! I didn’t realize that it was so recently. I will fix that. He did such great work and I am so sorry for your loss. That portrait is delightful in that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and adds a bit of whimsy.

  2. […] 6. Body in Motion: Climber Natalija Gros in Le Tango Vertical […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Experiencing the world through the arts and creativity.

Our current theme is resilience.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,162 other followers

Fractured Atlas Member

SYNKRONICITI is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of SYNKRONICITI must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Donate online here.
%d bloggers like this: