I arrive at the base of Tunnel Mountain in the half-light of 5:30 on a recent Sunday morning to take part in Inverted Mountains, a day-long performance presented by the world-renowned artists of Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie. Supported by The Banff Centre and Banff National Park, Inverted Mountains is set in four locations against the grand backdrop of the Rocky Mountains of Banff. Choreographer Bill Coleman, who is known for taking the art of dance and the process of creation beyond the stage and into unexpected realms, explores the relationship between the human body and the natural environment, joined by film director Anee Troake and composer John Oswald.
Along with my fellow participants, we walk in silence as we’re guided up Tunnel Mountain in the approaching dawn. Along the way we’re serenaded by the haunting soundscapes and visuals of concealed singers, musicians, and performers, either among us or within the landscape. As the inverted chords, melodies, intervals, and voices continue, we watch the sun rise over the mountain ranges.
Animate becomes inanimate, humans become animals. Mirrors – from small badges worn by participants, to large mirrors in the forest — reflect the idea of being inverted, and juxtapose humans and this pristine natural setting.
Throughout the day, our moveable audience guides itself from location to location. The finale of the day-long event is at Bow Falls, where the natural acoustics of the falling water is accompanied by musicians and performers’ voices. We imagine together the transformation of the inanimate to animate, of the animal to human, as a performer comes out of the Earth, dramatically falls down a hill, and is welcomed back into the human realm by her peers. Together, audience and performers gain a new appreciation for the natural landscape surrounding our human world.