Dance reaches new heights in Orchard Road

American troupe Bandaloop showing off their moves on Ion Orchard's facade during a rehearsal on Wednesday.
American troupe Bandaloop showing off their moves on Ion Orchard's facade during a rehearsal on Wednesday.PHOTO: TAN CHIN FAN FOR ION ORCHARD

Do not be alarmed if you are walking along Orchard Road this weekend and spot a group of people leaping boundlessly through the air and landing on the side of Ion Orchard's media facade.

They are dancers from Bandaloop, an American troupe who are pioneers of vertical dance. They are in town as part of the mall's 10th-anniversary celebrations.

For their performance, six dancers, tethered to the wall with rope and harnesses, will be suspended from the fifth floor of the mall. They will dance to a light and sound display designed specially for the occasion by local artists.

Shoppers can catch Bandaloop in action at Ion Square - the outdoor space at the entrance of Ion Orchard - every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from today to Oct 6. Each performance will last about 15 minutes and starts at 7, 7.45 and 8.30pm.

Bandaloop was founded in 1991 and got its name from the 1985 novel Jitterbug Perfume by American Tom Robbins, who wrote that the Bandaloop are a tribe in the Himalayas and that they do a dance to help them achieve immortality.

Troupe founder Amelia Rudolph picked the name as the idea of pursuing ageless beauty, new perspectives and honouring nature and community resonated with her.

Bandaloop have performed in natural and urban settings around the world - from the granite cliffs of Yosemite in the United States to the walls of the Old Jeddah City in Saudi Arabia.

  • VIEW IT / BANDALOOP

  • WHERE: Ion Square, 2 Orchard Turn

    WHEN: Today to Oct 6; Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7, 7.45 and 8.30pm

    ADMISSION: Free

And now, they will make Ion Orchard's unique facade their stage. This is the second time they are performing in Singapore - they were here in December 2006 for the National Museum's re-opening.

Bandaloop's executive director, Mr Thomas Cavanagh, 47, tells The Straits Times during a rehearsal on Wednesday: "The mall's undulating curves have a profound effect on the dancers' movement, which ranges from dreamy and orchestral on flatter surfaces, to a quick staccato on more convex areas. It mimics nature."

He draws a connection to how Ion Orchard's media facade was designed with direct reference to the contours and lines of the fruit and nuts that were harvested when Orchard Road was a nutmeg plantation.

Dancer Roel Seeber, 44, who has been with Bandaloop for 11 years, says: "We bring dance to city centres, to audiences who may otherwise never get the chance to step into a concert hall."

Performing with the troupe, he adds, has "widened his perception of what dance is" by "taking it to such unexpected places" and deeply moving their "incidental audiences".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2019, with the headline 'Dance reaches new heights in Orchard Road'. Print Edition | Subscribe