Troupe Prepares Gravity-Defying Show on Museum Facade

Aerialists to perform Saturday night. By Nicholas Bradford
Aerialists to perform Saturday night. By Nicholas Bradford

A platoon of artists, dancers and rock climbers has been working for months to transform the glass front of the Anchorage Museum into a multi-media vertical stage. The creators call it an “urban art intervention” and it all comes together Saturday night for a one-time performance.

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Choreographer Becky Kendall had a long list of last-minute fine-tuning at Thursday night’s rehearsal. “I think in this section, all of your movement needs to be more jerky and uncomfortable,” she told the performers. Elsewhere, she said, they needed to be faster, or slower, or less dainty.

This is a tough show for the dancers and aerialists. It’s outside, at night. They’ll be tethered by ropes and defying gravity.  And because they’ll be performing on different levels, they won’t even be able to see each other.

Kendall is a member of a group called the Light Brigade that creates performance art in – and on — unusual venues, starting with a 2009 show on the JCPenney parking garage.  Kendall is also one of the performers. She says among the challenges this time is the September chill. “The aerialists are all barefoot on the glass,” she said.  “It’s a safer landing and it’s also less slippery than trying to wear any kind of footwear on the glass surface. So, yes, we’re are glad that the show is under an hour, so we’re going to go out there, do our best and then warm up.”

The event is the result of a partnership between the Light Brigade, Momentum Dance Company and the museum. The Anchorage Park Foundation provided a grant. Bruce Farnsworth, one of the show’s creators, says it’s been over a year in the making.

“The museum – you know, you don’t do something on the museum on a whim,” he said. “This building is an important edifice in the community. It’s one of the more important architectural landmarks in Anchorage. If you’re going to do something on it, you better do something really cool because it’s already a really cool architectural sculpture, so we decided to take our time.”

The piece is called Over Beyond Across Through.  Farnsworth predicts it will forever change how viewers see this corner of downtown Anchorage.  The free performance begins at 9:30 Saturday on the Museum Plaza at C Street.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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