Sandrine Cassini On My Red Psychiatric Couch
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Dancer, choreographer and teacher, Sandrine Cassini
has been our guest now for almost two
weeks. She wakes up early. I make breakfast around 7:15. She leaves for the day
and returns between 4 and 5.
Today she got soaked. She told me that she has an
umbrella but that she wanted to feel like someone who belongs to this city.
Getting wet is part of that. She may be coming back soon to Vancouver if things
work out for her. I hope she does as she has some portraits pending that I must
take. Cassini has been recently in Iceland and New Zealand. She hails from Nice but she is partly Italian. For those who may be curious, she is indeed related to astronomer and mathematician Giovanni Domenico Cassini (1625- 1712).
She had a terrible headache (as intelligent women statistically seem to
get) so she told me she was not going to pose for portraits. But she did allow
me to snap some of her legs (and those wonderful thighs of hers!). I took five
photographs with my Fuji X-E1 and one Fuji FP-100C Instant Colour Film. What
you see here is a scan of the print.
The psychiatric couch was an important fixture of my Robson
at Granville studio for many years. It came from a retiring psychiatrist for
$100 plus a $25 delivery charge. When me moved to our present Kitsilano duplex
I had it re-upholstered to match the colour of our Chickering baby grand piano stool.
There is something about French-born ballerinas that is
intriguing and endearing. Cassini
has never lost that accent of hers. When I look
at her face I feel that I am right behind Degas in the 19th
Paris Opera Ballet. My guess is that I would have had a very large plate camera.
I can dream but this snap is one I will treasure for a long time.
The Paris Opera Ballet & Alonso King Lines Ballet
Saturday, March 04, 2017
for me is all about our ability to associate disparate stuff together. I
believe this may be what differentiates my cat Casi-Casi from me even though
when I hit a tin of cat food with a spoon he knows that the one and the other
mean dinner is served.
can do the same. It can transport me elsewhere by what some might think are
that in last night’s performance of the Alonso King Lines Ballet at the
Vancouver Playhouse (and tonight Saturday March 4 at 8pm) the first work
Shostakovich (featuring five of his string quartets) had me thinking of a great
tank battle between the Germans and the Russians in World War II at Kursk. And that was not all I was also humming in my head
Shostakovich’s orchestration of Tea for Two (with a further digression to the Thelonious Monk version).
Hass’s spare set design featured a curtain of shimmering golden strings that when
ocassionally rippled by a dancer (from the back) suggested sand falling in an
hourglass or sand dunes being buffeted by wind.
Axel Morgenthaler’s lighting design was also spare and not intrusive. With
Robert Rosenwasser’s costumes and that gold lighting sand was in my head. At
one point all ten dancers face a very strong light from one quarter and you
could see how sun and desert almost did them in as they faltered.
itself (from the point of view of this rank amateur) is a company that is
highly skilled and I would almost call it a modern ballet company in prestissimo. They are spectacular to watch. The five men and five women are all
uncommonly tall. But with all their technique and virtuosity there was still room for passion, gentleness. In the striking ending of Sand's VIII We Hum, Outro where Robb Beresford placed his head on Madeline DeVries's lap.
While our city
has a fairly healthy dance scene, it is most important to see how others in
other cities (in this case San Francisco) do it. I was chatting with an Arts
Umbrella dance student who was there “to see how”. Her favourite dancer of the
evening was the male Babatunji. I particularly liked him because of his
effusive smile. He was having fun.
Before the performance
began I spotted a man sitting by the center wall in back of the theatre.
He had a red cap on his head. I went up to him and asked him why his Spanish
was so good even though he had been born in Georgia. With a smile of his face
Alonso Lines replied, “I learned it in New York.”
end this sparse review (but of a performance that left me pleased if not exhausted
by all the heavy duty movement) without mentioning that I have a personal
connection with the Alonso King Lines Ballet. Before I go into that detail I
must explain something that might not be generally known about dancers and
dance companies. We all know that seasoned musicians must always practice
before a performance. How about dancers? The fact is that even on tour in
mornings before their performances they are given refresher classes on ballet
and modern dance. Dance companies hire “mercenaries” (in a good sense) who are
skilled in spades to bring them up to speed. One such person is my friend
I write this she is giving those ten dancers a ballet class. I like to think
that since Cassini started as a 14-year-old-dancer at the Paris Opera Ballet
(!!Degas!!), somehow some of her technique, a most French technique is being
transferred to those dancers. It was at one section of Shostakovich that
extremely tall Courtney Henry did some slow movements en pointe. With her long
arms and longer legs I was transfixed watching her. And yes there was something
of Cassini in those moves.
To someone who grew up in Mexico city in the 50s where I was exposed to American jazz (records and Voice of America) listening to the music of Sand composed by saxophonist Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran was a final icing on my dance night cake.
Sandrine Cassini - A Soon-to-be Visit by an Apparition
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Often in these pages I praise the day that I decided to
become a photographer and not a plumber. Plumbing would have been more lucrative and not the
preoccupation of what the next job was going to be as a freelancer.
But there are some perks.
Consider my long photographic involvement with one of the most
spectacularly beautiful (in a haunting 19th century-kind-of-way) ballerinas I have ever met.
This is her curriculum until a couple of years ago:
Born in France, Sandrine Cassini studied at the
Conservatoire Superieur de Paris before being awarded the Prix de Lausanne.
After dancing with the Paris Opera Ballet, she joined Les Ballet de Monte
Carlo, where she danced major roles in works by Balanchine, Forsythe, Neumeier,
Duato Kylian and Maillot. Her career then took her to Zuricher Ballet, San Jose
Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, National Theater Mannheim and recently, Bejart
Ballet, where she performed in Alonzo King’s Figures of Thought. Sandrine has
choreographed works on Staatstheater Regensburg, Ballet Victoria, Dances for
Small Stages in Vancouver, and National Theater Mannheim. Most recently, she
created a work on the LINES Ballet BFA Program entitled Arrowed Down, and she
created the work every cloud has a silver lining on the LINES Ballet Training
Program. She also created And Soon We Are for DTSF’s fall season. In 2014 she
was the Ballet Mistress for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
Since then she has been an extremely active mercenary
dancer/choreographer/instructor traveling Have Tutu - Will Travel) to far flung places. I know of this
because I can plot her movements through our mutual friendship in Facebook. She was last in Iceland.
It seems that soon she will be a guest in our Kitsilano
home. I will have the opportunity of taking photographs of her again. This time
we will also have time to reflect and converse.
I definitely prefer that to working under a kitchen sink.
The Clubhouse On Second
Friday, February 24, 2017
|The cutline in the Straight read : Girl Nobody, HInterland & Anomalous Disturbances display their colourful chopstick skills|
For the September 18, 2003 issue of the Georgia Straight I
had to shoot an assignment that involved at least four restaurant locations
where I had to photograph three rock bands together (three different for each
restaurant). The idea is that the bands were asked where they liked to hang
out. From those answers I picked the locations. It was not quite the age of
email so I had to call these bands (they had day jobs) and plead for them to
show up at the same time at the location. I believe that that I did one more in 2005 and then
told Mike Usinger (the nut at the Straight) to never call me again for this
This past Friday, February 24 2017 we were unable to get
a reservation at Lombardo’s Pizza on
Commercia. My friend baroque bassist Curtis Daily (he had been intrigued by the
Clubhouse when we found the place closed mid afternoon) suggested we go there
with my wife, eldest daughter Ale (visiting from Lillooet) and Lauren, 14.
went and it was a felicitous occasion. The place, which Curtis says cannot last
much longer, is a nice funky semi dive with an all-around
charm. The servers are just right, the beer is good and the food just right. I
plan to return.
The Clubhouse Japanese Restaurant
Sunday, February 19, 2017
The sound holes can have different shapes: round in flat-top
guitars and traditional bowl-back mandolins; F-holes in instruments from the
violin family, archtop mandolins and in archtop guitars; C-holes in violas da
gamba, and rosettes in lutes.
Faded - Recovered - Scanned - Delight
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Many years ago when film was plentiful and Polaroid made
film for my médium format RB-67 I used to peel the photographs from my Polaroid
back and throw them away.
Photographers have a way of not following rules so soon a
few had found out that the peels (they were negative-like) of Polaroid Colour
Instant Film did not fade and that they could be scanned. It seems that Polaroid
peels (as I call them) were in wait of a technology (scanners) that made them
relevant and in many ways quite beautiful.
Polaroid Instant Film (not the Instamatic kind) is dead. For
a few years we photographers switched to unusually good Fuji Film FP-300B B+W and
FP-100C Colour. The former now discontinued produced negatives that partially solarized
. The scanning results were most interesting. The latter colour film
has been recently discontinued but there are rumours that Fuji is going to
manufacture it in batches.
The initial problem with the Fuji Instant Colour peels is
that the image fades in short minutes. I have been able to take the peel to a
waiting scanner and produce a sort of Polaroid transfer (as they used to be
called). The peel itself when carefully bleached makes a strange sort-of-negative.
My friend baroque bassist Curtis Daily and I compared notes on the process and
have found a foolproof method for bleaching them without flaws.
I have a box with at least 100 of these that now that
Daily and I have our method, I will be treating in the near future.
This one of
Lauren is a tad underexposed but with the help of m 13-year-old Photoshop and
Corel XII’s “Clarify” tool I have been
able to get a lovely image of her that makes me smile when I look at it.