This year’s Cal Day – approaching fast, on Saturday, April 18 – promises to be extra special, with the spotlight on the 100-year-old Jane K. Sather Campanile. The Bay Area vertical dance company BANDALOOP, well-known for its spectacular aerial performances in public spaces around the world, will dance on the walls of the iconic, 300-foot-plus tower at 2 and 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, rarely-seen fossils from prehistoric Los Angeles stored on five levels of the bell tower since 1913 will be displayed at the Valley Life Sciences Building most of the day. The Campanile is home to 20 tons of fossils – the remains of animals, including saber-toothed cats, dire wolves and giant sloths, that perished in the La Brea tar pits. Most were excavated by UC paleontologists in the early 1900s and still are valuable to researchers across North America.
As many as 40,000 people from around the Bay Area and beyond flock to Cal Day each year to enjoy more than 300 free lectures, demonstrations, tours and performances in every part of the campus – from its museums, academic departments and labs to its athletic venues and bustling plazas lined on Cal Day with information booths and events.
Other Cal Day highlights will include:
- “Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks in Conversation with Michael Lewis,” the American non-fiction author and financial journalist. Zellerbach Hall, 5-6 p.m.
- “Survival of the Kindest.” Psychology professor Dacher Keltner presents the latest discoveries in the science of happiness, and practical, science-tested approaches to cultivating kindness and well-being. 10 Evans Hall, 12 noon-1 p.m.
- “The Campanile and National Park Service Turn 100: A Century of Fossils.” Along with the La Brea tar pits fossils, fossils from some of our National Parks also will be available for visitors to see. 1101 Valley Life Sciences Building, 9 a.m.-12 noon, 1 p.m.- 4 p.m.
Each year, prospective Berkeley students and their families comprise a sizeable portion of the Cal Day crowd and discover dozens of events designed especially for them, including a chancellor’s welcome, information sessions on various academic majors, a Cal Band performance, advice for transfer students, and even a session on preparing for college in the middle school years.
Among those excited about Cal Day is BANDALOOP’s artistic director, Amelia Rudolph, who says she has dreamed of dancing on the Campanile for many years.
“Even before I founded BANDALOOP in 1991, I had been looking up at Sather (tower), marveling at how a simple clock tower can anchor the public space of an entire campus,” she said. “I also have looked down on it many times from one of my favorite walks in the Berkeley hills that rises steeply through the eucalyptus behind the Claremont Hotel and wondered if we would ever be afforded the opportunity to dance on it, and here we are.”
Added Amanda Moran, BANDALOOP managing director, “The tower has lived large in my imagination since I was young. I must have taken the elevator ride 15 to 20 times. It was this mystical obelisk in the middle of campus. I felt like I was on top of the world.”
Moran described BANDALOOP’s perspective-bending dance as “a blend of dynamic physicality, intricate choreography and climbing technology that honors nature, community and the human spirit.” The company is known for activating public spaces and inspiring wonder and imagination in its audiences. It has performed live for close to 1 million people in theaters and museums, on skyscrapers, bridges and billboards, at historical sites, in atriums and conventions halls, on cliffs in nature, and on screen.
Audience members for the free, 10-minute-long performances are encouraged to bring a reclining chair, a neck pillow, or a mat or blanket to lie on.
A recent CBS profile of BANDALOOP may be viewed online.
With the Cal Day slogan of “One day. A million stories,” Cal Day organizers encourage visitors to share their Cal Day photos, adventures and favorite events via social media. See tips here.