Meet the Choreographer Who Brings Dance Into the Air

With her vertical dance troupe, Aeriosa, choreographer and artistic director Julia Taffe is creating unexpected experiences of dance. “The vision is for everybody to be inspired by dance. To get everybody thinking outside the box and imagining dance in their life in all kinds of ways.”

Aeriosa’s aerial productions combine the techniques of dance and rock-climbing, using rope rigging systems to find new movement possibilities in the realm of suspension.

Julia fell in love with dance at a very early age. “I would say I was born dancing. Dance is, it’s who I am, its how I’ve always wanted to experience the world.” By the time she was 18, she was taking 15 classes a week and she became a professional dancer right out of her training.

By the time she hit her early twenties, after years and years of dancing with intensity and determination, she experienced burnout as a dancer. “I just started to feel like I needed more, I needed to get outside the studio, I needed to be outside.”

So outside she went, and she fell in love with being in the mountains and climbing. Julia began a second career as a climbing guide and then found herself experimenting, creating vertical dance on rock faces.

“I was really interested to all of a sudden consider those same places as an artist rather than just as an athlete or as an adventurer. So, to be able to climb up a mountain, stand on a little ledge and dance just felt to me like such an interesting experiment, an exploration of space in a different way.”

In 2001, she formed Aeriosa, a vertical dance company creating unexpected experiences of dance, allowing dancers to inhabit public space and explore wild environments as dramatic stages for live dance.

“What I love about being a choreographer is having the opportunity to imagine and share my dreams with other dancers. The opportunity to decide what happens next. And I really love exploring with the physics of the systems in climbing and in rigging to see how we can change movement. There’s something really special about having bodies working together in a coordinated way.”

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