Dance-climb fusion project moves to Boulder


Maybe you know AscenDance from the television show America’s Got Talent. Or maybe from their 2009 appearance at Boulder’s Aerial Dance Festival. Or maybe you’re getting to know them as a new neighbor on Arapahoe Avenue. The AscenDance Project moves an art form into a sports arena by blending dance and climbing — the dancers cling to holds on a climbing wall while executing their choreography. And its founder and artistic director, Isabel Von Rittberg, has officially moved to Boulder, bringing the AscenDance company to a new studio here.

It’s a long-awaited move that answered her desire to move back into the mountains after years of living in California, Von Rittberg says.

But having relocated the dance project, she’s now looking for new performers to join the team and will host a dance-climb fusion class on Saturday, May 12, followed by AscenDance auditions the next day.

“The idea behind it is to really give people an insight into what we do,” Von Rittberg says. “There’s intrigue, but people don’t really quite understand what it means to dance on a climbing wall.”

Dancers, gymnasts, climbers, aerialists, break dancers and others interested can come to the class on Saturday to see what AscenDance is all about, then carry those lessons over to the auditions Sunday.

The class is also a chance to see if there’s ongoing interest in courses for the community.

“Because of the discipline we’ve created it’s really been interesting the variety of backgrounds we get,” Von Rittberg says. She gets frequent inquiries asking what she’s expecting in a performer, she says, and the answers vary. Her background is in ballet, but now one of her strongest performers has a background as a rock climber and musician.

“Really what these backgrounds provide is just a really unique style to each performer, and that’s what I enjoy so much,” she says.

But before they look for their names in lights, new performers will first be tasked with creating a new AscenDance project that can be taken on tour — a performance that can fill an evening, rather than some of the shorter appearances AscenDance already has booked along the Front Range.

“There’s a high demand for AscenDance projects, but we need to build a show and that takes a lot of tedious and hard work,” Von Rittberg says. “These new dancers are going to have to put in a lot of work to create something that can be shown so we can go on tour.”

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