Wyoming September 07, 2017
The One Place In The World Where Performers Dance On The Side Of A Cliff Is Right Here In Wyoming
When you look at the sheer face of a cliff, you might notice the breathtaking height and see the rock it’s made of. However, there’s a one-of-a-kind dance troupe in Wyoming that would judge the same vertical wall of stone to be the perfect stage. Suspended on ropes and accompanied by live musicians, this Vertical Dance, as it’s called, is a daring and graceful exhibition you’ll never forget.
For nearly a century, drama and dance students from the University of Wyoming have been performing in the idyllic wilderness setting of Vedauwoo Recreation Area in the southeastern part of the state.
It was in the 1920s when Maybell Land DeKay, a drama professor at the University of Wyoming, first had the idea of using the unique rock outcroppings in the area as a backdrop for the performing arts.
Professor DeKay wrote and produced a play about the history of Wyoming that ran in 1926 and 1928 at Vedauwoo, as well as being performed numerous times indoors at the university.
In the late 1990s, the university's Department of Theater and Dance took their performers back to the place it all began, with the idea of the stunning natural surroundings playing a bigger part in the production.
With the intention of incorporating vertical dance techniques with technical rock climbing, a professor of geophysics devised a way to suspend the performers from the rocks above the audience.
An entirely original new musical score was penned for the show. The ensemble sits on the ledge of a conveniently recessed part of the wall, providing live music for the dancers.
The performers literally dance on the face of the mountain, jumping and pirouetting...
...as gracefully as any dancer on a traditional stage.
The ropes provide the ability to leap even higher than dancers on an ordinary stage, sending them flying high out over the audience.
The ease with which the dancers perform is mesmerizing...
...and more than a little thrilling...
...especially when you're viewing it from the base of the cliff.
The performance has drawn crowds of up to 1.800 spectators at a time over the years.
The Vertical Dance is certainly an unforgettable experience.
Want to take a peek at this amazing performance?
Have you experienced Vertical Dance at Vedauwoo? What did you enjoy about it most?