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From St. Paul’s Cathedral to Building 25

Vertical dance company BANDALOOP starts work in Alameda next week

Alamedans have a chance to watch incredible dancers at work next week when they rehearse on the metal girders at the Eastern end of Building 25 (home to Brix Beverage, Urban Legend Winery, and Dashe Cellars). This is the start of a new collaboration between the Artistic Director of Oakland’s BANDALOOP, Melecio Estrella, and Alameda choreographer, Tara Pilbrow, culminating in a series performance in fall 2024.

Alameda Post - Tara Pilbrow midair in front of Door 13
Tara Pilbrow dances in front of door 13 of one of the buildings at the former Naval Air Station at Alameda Point. Photo David DaSilva.

For many years, Pilbrow, choreographer and Executive Director of West End Arts District, had been dreaming about inviting BANDALOOP to create a work on the metal structure at the end of Building 25. It wasn’t until she heard about the city’s plans for the De-Pave Park project that she saw an opportunity to  take advantage of this dramatic site to focus on vital environmental and social concerns.

The De-Pave Park project is a visionary proposal by the City of Alameda to transform the naval airfield at the western end of Seaplane Lagoon into an ecological park. The proposal, designed by CMG Landscape Architecture, involves recycling 100% of the existing site materials, to transform the area into an ecological park that welcomes sea level rise, and provides opportunities for public access and environmental education.

Pilbrow realized that creating a performance inspired by the unique history of this area—its transformation from Naval base to ecological park—would help to highlight some of the pivotal social issues of our time: climate change adaptation and sustainable development. Pilbrow also knew that BANDALOOP‘s Artistic Director, choreographer Melecio Estrella would be the ideal partner for such a multi-faceted artistic endeavor.

Estrella is a cornerstone of the Bay Area dance world. As well as his work with BANDALOOP, he co-directs dance based live art organization Fog Beast, and is a long term collaborator with the Joe Goode Performance Group. Over the last eight years he has created site-specific outdoor performances with climate scientists, young climate activists, hydrologists, landscape architects, and other artists. Estrella seeks to understand how knowledge, and a physically felt sense of ecological connectedness can change the way we imagine and create livable futures.

Alameda Post - BANDALOOP dancers perform “RESURGAM” on St Paul’s Cathedral, London, Photo by Brooke Anderson.
BANDALOOP dancers perform “RESURGAM” on St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Photo by Brooke Anderson.

Pillbrow said, “I am thrilled to have an opportunity to work with BANDALOOP to create a performance work which will have a significant impact on the landscape of Alameda Point—both by communicating the vision of the De-Pave project, and by raising the profile of Alameda Point as a growing arts district, and the home to Alameda’s future performing arts center.”

Estrella was equally enthusiastic. “How can knowledge and a physically felt sense of ecological connectedness change the way we imagine and create livable futures? “Re-Cycle” is a prime opportunity to deepen this inquiry with my local community and ecosystem. Tara’s passion for this area and its potential as a Bay Area arts hub is infectious, and I am excited to partner once again with West End Arts District and Tara Pilbrow Dance to create Re-Cycle.”

Audiences are invited to the eastern facade of Bulding 25, 1951 Monarch St. at Alameda Point,  to watch the dancers in rehearsal on Friday and Saturday, September 15 and 16, between 4 and 5 p.m. Bring a stool or blanket and sit back to watch as the dancers explore the artistic potential of this stunning site, and outline the artistic vision for their 2024 performance “Re-Cycle.” Follow it up with a sunset drink at one of the many choices around Alameda Point.

The “Re-Cycle” project is produced collaboratively by West End Arts District and Radium Presents, and supported by the City if Alameda. The project will culminate in a series of performances in fall 2024.

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