Wheelchair dancer in the sky

Dangling upside down in your wheelchair 30-45 feet above a crowd of onlookers isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, but for Rodney Bell it’s ideal.

Rodney Bell and Chloe Loftus hang high above a captivated Sydney audience during a performance of “The Air Between Us.”

Ian Ruder, New Mobility January 24, 2023

“The higher the better,” says the award-winning Māori dance artist. “I really enjoy being up with the birds. When I’m up there, I’m taller than everybody else, and they have to look up and get a sore neck.”

From Jan. 20-22, Australian audiences got a chance to look up and see Bell and choreographer Chloe Loftus perform their new aerial collaboration, “The Air Between Us.” Bell and Loftus developed and evolved the show over a year of performing at outdoor venues in New Zealand, often performing hanging from a rig mounted to trees. The three-night engagement outside the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney marked the show’s international debut.

Click image for a larger view

Bell graced the cover of New Mobility’s September 2010 issue as a member of California-based Axis Dance Company. He stayed at Axis until 2012 and then spent three years homeless in San Francisco before a nonprofit raised money to help him return to New Zealand. He performed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Queensland and toured Australia and New Zealand with a well-received show titled “Meremere” in 2022.

He’s excited to share “The Air Between Us” with more audiences, and says an international tour of “Meremere” is in the works. More than anything though, he is excited to give back to the community, especially the “tangata haua” — a Māori term that he translates to “our disabled people that lean differently in the wind.”

“It’s my time to give back as much as I can,” he says. “I feel I’ve absorbed enough soul food to start giving some of that out and be feeding others.”

Source New Mobility


The Air Between Us is a captivating outdoor aerial dance event performed mid-air between trees.
Arriving at this point in time from diverse backgrounds and life experiences, critically acclaimed choreographer Chloe Loftus and multi-award winning disabled artist Rodney Bell – who performs in his wheelchair – explore our innate capacity to exist in symbiotic harmony.
Like encircling planets, magnetically pulled by each other’s energy, their partnership in this mesmerising performance celebrates equality and connection.
Rigged between trees or existing buildings, a unique rigging design and counterweight system is crafted and expertly executed by Tym Miller-White.
For evening performances the duo have bespoke fibre-optic costumes, adding to the vibrancy and spectacle of the work, ideal for Winter and Light Festivals. Chloe Loftus. Vimeo May 11, 2021
Supported by Creative New Zealand

Also see
Physically Integrated Dance Comes of Age New Mobility

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