The Vision of Ascendance | Dead Point Magazine
by Anthony Lapomardo
Climbing integrates technical prowess and physical conditioning. An arcing wall is the playground in which climbers chose to perform their medium upon. Isabel Von Rittberg (a dancer & climber by heart) envisioned a new use for the climbing medium that involved an arcing wall, but this one was constructed by a climber for a new form of self-expression, dance.
Isabel envisioned her latest project that is currently enveloping her life and channeling her psyche as she left the Virgin River Gorge. From the windows of her van she mournfully eyed the walls from the rear view as the tape deck filled the cab with music it was at that moment that her vision solidified itself. She would combine two elements she believed touched everyone (climbing & music).
Upon her return to the Bay Area she found a small loft and began to construct a wall. With the help of the Bay Area community she hauled all the needed supplies to her loft and constructed her first "dance floor". After the wall was constructed a well placed ad at local gyms sparked the interest in several climbers who would begin their training with Isabel. They would be climbing with an entirely new emphasis, not to top out, but to sustain movement that would excite and inspire.
Climbing and dancing share numerous similarities, all of Isabel's dancers are in actuality real climbers. Every choreographed move is based on an actual climbing move, but with Isabel's embellishment, the moves allow the crowd to visually enjoy the display of power and grace. An extended drop-knee, an overly arcing bat-hang, and even the most simple of moves are produced with passion, design with intent.
After months of preparation which included building a wall, finding a talented and dedicated group of climbers/dancers Isabel began to exhibit dozens of shows, the first in 2006 at the Red Rock Rendezvous. Isabel debuted a small sampling, which was followed up by shows at Touchstone Climbing Gyms, and then her groups largest show premiered in San Francisco's Union Square as a piece for the San Francisco Arts Festival. From there the group toured relentlessly throughout the Bay Area all the way to Boulder, Colorado to showcase their piece at the Aerial Dance Festival.
Isabel's vision and showcases has earned her rave reviews. She has successfully combined two distinct forms of physical expression into a single, fluid formation that amplifies the beauty of climbing and extends the possibilities of the sport to a new level.
Aesthetically, this show builds upon the subtle beauty that is exhibited each time a climber chooses to shoe up and attempt a burn on their latest project. But, Isabel's vision has amplified the intrinsic beauty of the sport of climbing and created a sublime performance that will continue to inspire those who have never attempted to scale a single wall.