Dance - A Frozen StyleTuesday, May 09, 2017
One such design darling was Barbara Solowan who worked for the now defunct national publication Saturday Night. She asked me to photograph Gillian Guess She asked me to shoot Guess as if I had been assigned by Vanity Fair. A few years later a revived Saturday Night again gave me the assignment to photograph Guess. I was told not to shoot her in colour, not to shoot it slick with my lights and to use the existing lights. They wanted a fly-on-the-wall approach. My Rosemary, always smarter than her husband said, “Make sure you use Maureen Willick to style the shot and pay her out of your pocket so the magazine will not know.” Both versions are here.
At Vancouver Magazine I worked for two very good art directors who loved magazines. One was Rick Staehling (who made me shoot sewing machines) and the other was Chris Dahl. They insisted in not having me do my usual. They always pushed me to do things differently. Dahl at one point told me to shoot covers for Vancouver Magazine using the Vanity Fair technique of Irving Penn. My first effort was so like Penn that I was sent back to vary it a bit!
So as a 74 year old idle and former magazine photographer I know a bit about photography, styles, trends and a bit of design.
Today, Saturday May 6th I noticed a couple of ads for the New York City Ballet in my Sunday NY Times that is always delivered the night before. I showed the the page with the ad to Rosemary and asked her for a comment. Ignoring the colour picture on the right she said of the other, “I like it. It is earthy.”
At one time I would have kept my opinions on our city’s photography trends to myself. To have been openly critical in the 80s and 90s might have alienated me from magazines and I would have lost work. My Rosemary always cautioned me to keep it inside.
Now that has changed as I am not looking for work and in most cases the few magazines and publications that still exist do not have functioning art directors as I knew them then.
Quite a few years ago I came to the realization (after seeing lots of ballet and modern dance) that dancers both female and male sweated and gasped for air. I always sat and sit in the front row as I want to listen to them breathe. And female dancers, like any other women, menstruated and performed other bodily functions as all humans. Dancers, I figured out were not swans.
I also noticed that in spite of the fact that many dance companies like to promote uniformity of shape and form I could discern personality and style. I noticed when a dancer had a new haircut or in some cases I knew she was pregnant.
And yet in Vancouver (and this is a mild rant) dancers are perceived, if you notice print publications or social media, as flying swans frozen in time and space in midair.
Most if not all the dancers (of both sexes) that I have had the good fortune to meet and photograph have impressed me by their personalities and their deep knowledge not only of dance form but of just everything else. Like our Vancouver architects they are somewhat renaissance people.
One of my supreme pleasures in watching dance is to have the opportunity to see rehearsals and to be back stage. A couple of years ago I watched a lovely French Canadian apparition of a woman from Arts Umbrella called Beatrice Larrivé. She had somehow twisted her ankle and she was in terrible pain on the side waiting for the next segment of the dance. She was crying. But she picked herself up and danced.
|Beatrice Larrivé cries|
I have photographed the Nice-born Sandrine Cassini countless times and every time I am aware of how grace and sensuality can mix in a good dancer. I would not want to see her in mid-air, frozen without a nary of personality showing through.
Of dancer Lauri Stallings (now has her dance company in Atlanta) I proposed taking photographs that showed her as an anti-ballerina.
It is my belief that if dancers are shown and photographed as being made of skin and bone and affected by universal gravity in spite of what you might see, there would be a new interest in dance. It would not be seen as a lofty art form to be enjoyed by a clique of snobs. If young boys and girls saw this approach they would be the first to want to be back stage or to demand autographs on their programs.
Motion is sometiime made more interesting by not freezing it but by swirling it.
And manly eroticism, too.
|Top left, Albert Galindo, Andrew Haydock and Tristan Ghostkeeper, sitting Charlie Prince & Jayson Syrette|