A vertical dance troupe will go off the wall in Old Fourth Ward this weekend

California-based dance troupe Bandaloop will perform as part of Flux Projects's FIELD

Nigerian textile and fashion designer IB Bayo designed fabric stories, costumes, and set pieces.

Photograph courtesy of Bandaloop

Back in 2019, New City’s Jim Irwin asked Anne Archer Dennington—the executive director of Flux Projects, which coordinates temporary public art projects around town—if she had any ideas for livening up his company’s then unfinished development at 725 Ponce in Old Fourth Ward. Dennington had just the artistic treatment in mind: dancers suspended in air, performing vertically on the building’s broadside facing the Eastside BeltLine trail. She had just met with Bandaloop, a California-based dance troupe that weaves together choreography and climbing technology to reimagine dance in the public domain, and Dennington figured the facade of 725 Ponce would serve as the perfect stage—turned on its side.

Her vision is finally coming to fruition. From October 1st through 3rd, Flux Projects will premiere FIELD, the second installment of LOOM, a national four-part series by Bandaloop. The series juxtaposes traditional fabric-creation techniques with the socioecological impacts of the global fashion industry—which alone accounts for 20 percent of industrial water pollution.

“The textile industry is the second-largest polluting industry in the world. With Atlanta—but, more specifically, the Old Fourth Ward—having a role in the cotton trade, this event is site-specific,” says Dennington. She points to O4W’s Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills, now the Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts, which manufactured cloth and paper bags. What’s now Studioplex was once a cotton warehouse, and the local railroad transported related products.

Turning the BeltLine-adjacent building into a giant loom, the stories of FIELD—directed by Bandaloop’s artistic director, Melecio Estrella, and told by a collective of dancers, textile artists, and sustainability strategists—will contrast the ecological challenges with cloth’s power to hold, comfort, and adorn the human experience.

“You are drawn to artists because there is some underlying current. As you work together, weaving what’s prevalent in their work with what is site-specific to Atlanta, you begin to find these common threads, and the piece just kind of reveals itself,” says Dennington of how the partnership with Bandaloop came together, then deepened and regenerated with the pause mandated by the pandemic. The installation was originally meant for 2020, to commemorate Flux Projects’ 10th anniversary.

“I am a big believer that artists are connected to messages and lessons that humanity needs to learn, and they are able to make these visible and communicate them in a way that a much broader audience can begin to hear and understand at just the right time,” she says.

“The thing about Bandaloop is that they do it in a way that is just spectacularly beautiful.”

This article appears in our October 2021 issue.