In early October, I headed to the Arizona desert to attend an event where I knew not a soul, at a place that I’d been interested in for decades but had never visited. With its vaulted shade structures and multi-leveled walkways and amphitheaters, Paolo Soleri’s planned artists community, Arcosanti, is the ideal environment to explore on stilts; that is, unless there is a sustained, three-day series of downpours…nonetheless, things dry fast in the desert, and once the Arizona sun had returned, our stilt-classroom expanded to include rooftops, aerial rigging structures, and the desert itself.
I completely enjoyed the opportunity to dance on stilts for hours on end in “Axis Syllabus” and “Afro-Caribbean” classes, and the new challenges presented by practicing acrobatics and contact improvisation with extra long legs. The event organizers, and many of the teachers, are members of the Carpetbag Brigade, an amazing, globe-trotting troupe of acrobatic stilt dancers. Their third annual Congress attracted participants from Montreal, Toronto and Edmunton, Canada, across the U.S., Mexico and El Salvador. I came home a week later with delightful, adventurous bunch of new friends and colleagues across the continent. And with lots of homework to do before I even begin to meet their level of skill.
During the second week of the Congress, participants created a site-specific performance, which appears to have been an amazing event, and surely was a rich creative process. Next time… meanwhile, plans are in the works for a Carpetbag Brigade visit to the Midwest for a weekend of workshops this Spring. Stay tuned!
Want to see more photos? Here’s a little album of my own desert snapshots.