That summer lying in the long grass with my head propped up against the back of a saddle, with the zenith above me and the drop of distance below, I listened to the mountain silence until I could hear as far into it as the faintest clink of a cowbell. In the mountains, what might be out of sight had never really gone away. Like the mountain, that distant bell would always be there. It would keep reminding.
Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe
that I do not want it. Now I understand
why the old poets of China went so far and high
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.
― Mary Oliver, Why I Wake Early
Rock climbers have a special relationship with surfaces they climb. What happens when this elevated awareness is fused with dance?
Have you ever dreamt of flying, of twisting and turning through the air with no fear? Amelia Rudolph had this dream often as a child. One day, when rock climbing in the Sierra Mountains of California, this multi-faceted dancer who holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Comparative Religion re-imagined her dream. Her vision was a synthesis, a merging of rock climbing with dance.
Bandaloop was founded in 1991 to explore the possibilities of vertical dance. Dancing was brought to the mountains and climbing was brought to urban environments as dancers and rock climbers learned to fuse their skills. The result is something transcendent: performing that allows the dancer/climber to realize the dream of flight, assisted by ropes and equipment, and brings the audience along to share the wonder. Normally, rock climbing is a very self focused and isolated discipline, while dance, with all its theatrical tradition, can feel intimidating to an audience. Somehow, in fusing the two a situation occurs that draws the audience into that focused dreamscape with the performer, breaking down walls. It’s truly impressive and inspiring. Just the kind of thing we love to explore at synkroniciti.
Video via BANDALOOP on YouTube
Amazed? Intrigued? Please check out their website for more about Bandaloop.
Is this the summit, crowning the day? How cool and quiet! We’re not exultant; but delighted, joyful; soberly astonished. . . Have we vanquished an enemy? None but ourselves. Have we gained success? That word means nothing here. Have we won a kingdom? No. . . and yes. We have achieved an ultimate satisfaction. . . fulfilled a destiny. . . To struggle and to understand – never this last without the other; such is the law. . .
―George Mallory, Climbing Everest: The Complete Writings of George Mallory
During my three seasons at Mount Rainier I learned a lot about mountain climbing and rescues, about politics and camaraderie in the mountains, and about what being a woman climber means. Now I know in all certainty when to bring my toothbrush and when to leave it at home, and, all things considered, that kind of confidence is hard to come by. The greatest skill I ever had, though, was the one I started with: being able to suffer for long periods of time and not die. In exchange, I got to see some amazing things.
Then, one on either side, they walked me to the shore, which was black and endless. But there was a fire waiting. And there was a little meal laid out on a blanket. And there was a whole world beyond that shoreline, beyond the forest, beyond the knuckle mountains, beyond, beyond, beyond, not beneath the surface at all, but beyond and waiting.
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.
I grow into these mountains like a moss. I am bewitched. The blinding snow peaks and the clarion air, the sound of earth and heaven in the silence, the requiem birds, the mythic beasts, the flags, great horns, and old carved stones, the silver ice in the black river, the Kang, the Crystal Mountain. Also, I love the common miracles-the murmur of my friends at evening, the clay fires of smudgy juniper, the coarse dull food, the hardship and simplicity, the contentment of doing one thing at a time… gradually my mind has cleared itself, and wind and sun pour through my head, as through a bell. Though we talk little here, I am never lonely; I am returned into myself. In another life-this isn’t what I know, but how I feel- these mountains were my home; there is a rising of forgotten knowledge, like a spring from hidden aquifers under the earth. To glimpse one’s own true nature is a kind of homegoing, to a place East of the Sun, West of the Moon- the homegoing that needs no home, like that waterfall on the super Suli Gad that turns to mist before touching the earth and rises once again to the sky.