Karissa Barry - Short, Compact & WonderfulFriday, September 15, 2006
For many years I have thought of female ballet and modern dancers much in the same way as most other people do. They are are supposed to be slim, tall (or look tall) with slightly remote expressions that would suggest that at any given time they are channeling a white swan. This vision is difficult to sustain when one sees the voluptuous Cori Caulfield, the incredibly tall and muscular Emily Molnar and for those who thought that ballerinas never had cleavage, I still miss (as does Christopher Dafoe, the former Globe & Mail arts critic, turned lawyer) Ballet BC’s Gail Skrela.
I first noticed this revolution (a strong and compact one) when I saw Amber Funk for the first time. Funk even accentuated her short, muscular legs by dancing with work boots. With a smile on my face I watched Max Wyman’s puzzled look during a performance. He did not know what to make of this kind of dancer and of her dancing. I am positive that Funk has turned on many a young person to dance as many of the new breed of compact dancers have. A second compact dancer of note is Jennifer Clarke. In a shoot in my studio with Christopher Gaze she did not think twice about picking him up for the photo.
One compact dancer I did not get enough of is Sandrine Cassini (the perfect Ballet BC Carmen) who left town for Mannheim, Germany a couple of years ago. Fortunately I will see her on Saturday with my granddaughter Rebecca. She is in town dancing in the Alberta Ballet production of Romeo and Juliet.
There are two others that I first discovered a few years ago at Arts Umbrella where my Rebecca is on her third year of the dance program. Lina Fitzner is a gorgeous red-haired woman who is all curves. She taught my Rebecca when her other teacher, Andrea Hodge would go on a Ballet BC tour. I have seen her dance with Mascall Dance, with Amber Funk and in her own choreographed works. The other Arts Umbrella dancer I first saw four years ago at a year-end presentation of the school's dance program. She was a girl with sleepy eyes that smiled all the time.
It has been my pleasure to photograph Karissa Barry twice (once with Lina Fitzner and Amber Funk, Fitzner is top right and Funk bottom right) and most recently for this week's Georgia Straight cover with Farley Johansson. I told her (consider that it was a hot day and she was posing in a tiny bikini with Farley Johansson) that in the last century I would have seen her in a beach movie. She is that kind of girl- one you would have wanted to ask to the prom.
But when she dances, that’s another story.