Crystal Pite, Six Young Choreographers & One Prince at Q7Sunday, May 22, 2016
On Friday, May 20 I was invited to attend the Arts Umbrella Dance Company’s Young Choreographer Program Presentation at their Q7 Studio Location on 7th and Quebec in Vancouver. I had a center-front-row seat and permission to snap my camera at my heart’s content. The program, on its third year, features the renowned-favourite-son choreographer Crystal Pite mentoring the young students (7 this year) of the Arts Umbrella Dance Company.
As per usual (but I do not take it in the least for granted) the dancing and the choreography were top notch. It was the last piece, beit Biet Jissmi (excerpt) that provided me with my best photographs. For one Charlie Prince choreographing himself had a slightly smaller problem in communicating his vision to the dancer (himself). Secondly, just one dancer on stage either fails or excels (not to mention humdrum in the centre). Prince provided me (and I hope I can add to the rest of the crowd) with the exhilaration of seeing a virtuoso performance. It was most interesting to see at a time when rapid change is to be expected to note that Prince was still for a long time and the only movement to be noted (and you had to look closely) was in the fingers of his outstretched right hand.
There is one caveat that I want to point out concerning the perceived quality (or not) of my photographs! For most of my life as a magazine photographer I created the decisive moment in my studio or instructed my subjects what to do in front of my camera. My skill in photographing dance is suspect even though I had one very good teacher years ago called Jim Hibbard who led a jazz dance company that performed in CBC variety shows in the late 70s and early 80s. He told me, “Alex, always shoot from the floor. You want to make dancers look taller. If you can dig a hole in the ground to be lower, do it.”
In the little experience that I had in my past of taking sports I was lucid enough to understand that all motion (and that includes dance) has its peak moments. When the bat hits the baseball, at that precise moment, movement is zero. Thus, it may seem like a paradox, but it isn’t, one can use slow shutter speeds to freeze movement when it happens at its peak. In a studio a dance photographer with very large soft boxes can freeze a dancer in mid-air. In a studio like the one at Q7 where the light is the light that is already there some problems are incurred.
I was not familiar with any of the 6 performances that I watched on Friday. I did not know what to look for nor did I know when peek moments would happen. My Fuji X-E1is an excellent mirrorless digital camera that has one severe limitation. In poor light, the autofocus mechanism is slow. When I know there is a peak movement in the works and I can anticipate it, not much happens when I press the shutter. In short many, if not most of the pictures here are a long streak (at ¼, 1/8 or 1/15 of second) of beginner’s luck!
Landscape - Stephanie Jamieson
In Orbit - Sabine Raskin
Familiar - Antonia Kruschel
Till I See You - Maddy Gilbert
Ten Minutes of Myself - Lizka (Lizzy & Mika)
|Mika and Lizzy|
beit Beit Jissmi (excerpt) - Charlie Prince
|Maddy Gilbert, Stephanie Jamieson, Sabine Raskin, Charlie Prince, Lizzy, Mika, Antonia Kruschel|