Terry Crane on “The End of Rope”

Terry Crane, the rope expert and Artistic Director of Acrobatic Conundrum , is joining us at SANCA as our Artist in Residence for the end of July. He will prepare for and workshop his new show, which will debut at the San Francisco Aerial Arts Festival in August. For the residency, Terry is creating aerial and floor choreography for a new piece, “The End of the Rope,” which features six rope artists and a live musician.

“The End of the Rope” uses a large pulley with a rope threaded through it, a new apparatus that builds on movement research developed while using the “counterweight loop” featured in previous Conundrum shows — “Love & Gravity,” “The Way Out,” and other collaborations. For those unfamiliar with the counterweight loop, it is made up of 12-strand rope threaded through two large wooden pulleys, with the ends spliced together so it forms a vertical circle. In order to climb one side, the other side needs to be counter-weighted, which makes it an apparatus that is inherently relational; two or more people are needed to operate it. Tickets available here.

The new apparatus operates with similar principles but also a unique property — the rope has two ends.

The “End of The Rope” is a constellation of suspended stories, with the ending of each acrobat’s vignette hinting at the beginning of another. Loftily dancing, speaking from their aeries, and descending to dance, the circus artists of Acrobatic Conundrum share glimpses of their interior selves even as they defy gravity. The world they create is equal parts grace and humor, aerial acrobatics and careful mise en scène [a visual theme; or “telling the story” in a visually artful way]. Spectators are beckoned into the plot to pursue trails left by poets-in-motion, and the fourth wall fades away as audiences and performers share moments of wonder together. Terry is performing with Yuko Hata, Kip Jones, PJ Perry, Sommer Panage, and Xochitl Sosa, with musical accompaniment by Kip Jones.

In describing the aerial ensemble work that Terry creates and choreographs, he shares his perspective on the importance of collaboration and how he imbues this symbolism into his art:

“In the context of the moment, a symbol’s meaning shifts. On stage we’re a microcosm of humanity; a small ocean in a bottle. And in every show, in every moment, we need to be attuned to each other. We need to pay attention and rely on each other.

Terry Crane & Xochitl Sosa on Corde Lisse. Photo by Marc Hoffman.

“I’ve fallen in love with, and been dear friends with, and collaborated with talented artists who have been denied entry to the U.S. As well as being bad for art, a wall designed to exclude hurts the needy and puts one more division in our own hearts. I categorically oppose this symbol.

“It’s vitally important, now more than ever, to share our art, ideas, and stories across cultural, linguistic and national lines. Touring work to other countries means flow of information both ways. We inspire each other. Perspectives broaden, the perception of diversity grows. We discover new ways [for] people to navigate the same questions: of how to get along, create home, [and] build community. Places on maps become places we have lived, people we meet while teaching, [and] audiences who react in unexpected ways. These places become part of our own stories. We cross-pollinate. We see how it’s possible to live otherwise than we do. Long distances shrink and we become closer.

“Much as it might temporarily satisfy our angry, aggrieved selves, there can be no denying we are one thing. One species. Sharing one planet. In my mind, inclusion and exclusion are two answers to the wrong question. Something like, ‘How can I belong?’ They both stem from the illusion of our separateness, from each other, from what’s around us. I think because we are here, belonging is implied.

“I’m dedicated to holding up a mirror to our community, to reflect as accurately as I can the fact of our interconnectivity. I encourage all my fellow U.S. circus artists to do similarly; it’s time to put all that training to some use. Now is a moment for truth. Let’s make some art that means something.”

To read more about Terry’s process of apparatus creation and symbolism, visit the Acrobatic Conundrum blog .