Aerialists explore the indoors

If given the chance to fly, would you?

Amelia Rudolph would — and does. It is, after all, her day job.

The artistic director and founder of Project Bandaloop, one of the country’s preeminent vertical dance companies, has been honoring nature, community and the human spirit through spectacular aerial feats since the early 1990s.

“There’s a sensation deep inside us, a desire to fly or float, that longs to be free from the bonds of gravity,” she says.

Rudolph, who recalls experiencing the sensation of flight in a childhood dream in which she floated six inches or so above the sidewalk, has since exchanged those first few inches in dreamland for hundreds of feet at a time in reality: she has repelled down skyscrapers and leaped into the unknown from cliff-sides.

In her latest production, “Interiors,” which premieres tonight at San Francisco’s Cowell Theater, Rudolph takes on a whole new animal, an indoor stage.

As the head of a dance company known for outdoor theatrics, Rudolph’s site-specific work often utilizes hillsides, buildings and other large-scale, open-air environments.

Her new piece, offered in a more intimate setting, gives Project Bandaloop the opportunity to showcase its work in new ways. “Interiors,” which features an interactive set by Todd Laby and lighting by Jack Carpenter, explores the nitty-gritty of everyday life inside a house.

The ordinary and mundane are celebrated, examined and reframed in the context of family dynamics that unfold around a dinner table — a flying dinner table — and within the confines of a seemingly everyday living room.

“Artistically, I wanted to explore the nuances and interactions that are found in the rituals of everyday life,” she says.

Beyond scaling her choreography for an indoor arena, Rudolph, a self-described abstract performer, says “Interiors” pushed her boundaries artistically as she worked to create a piece that showcased humor, whimsy and a much more theatrical side of dance.

“To play with that was the scary part,” she says. “I generally don’t play with humor; if you blow it, that’s certainly a risk.”

Even though “Interiors” is set inside, Project Bandaloop’s distinctive characteristics aren’t lost. The company’s signature climbing technology, highly physical dance and relationship to gravity remain in full effect.

“Gravity is not playing by the rules here,” says Rudolph. “When you see that it can jar your perspective on things, and that’s what good art does. If a single member of the audience leaves saying, ‘Wow, I’m really confused about things right now’ or if it pops someone out of their rut, then what we’ve done has been effective.” 

IF YOU GO

Project Bandaloop

Where: Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Buchanan Street and Marina Boulevard, San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. April17-19; 7 p.m. April 20

Tickets: $15 to $28 general; $75 for opening night gala

Contact: (415) 345-7575, www.projectbandaloop.org   

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