Archive for the ‘Dance’ Category
I’m not sure how it’s been almost two months since I last shared a photograph. Okay, that’s not entirely true, I have a pretty good idea: I’ve been spending an awful lot of time outdoors since mid-fall when San Francisco became its beautifully crisp Indian Summer self. I enjoyed as many gorgeous sunsets as I could before Daylight Savings returned, hopped on my new bicycle to get some wind in my hair, started running and punching and kicking things before the sun made its daily appearance, volunteered with SFJazz and TEDxSF, and found myself dancing onstage for the first time in three years. If there were a petition for a 34-hour day, I’d be the first to sign.
Great freedom is possible when your feet are firmly planted on the floor. Perhaps this sounds funny coming from me, the photographer who takes so many mid-air images. Yet, being grounded is the unseen crucial ingredient of compelling jumpology. To defy gravity is a bit of a misnomer when it comes to jump photography, it’s actually taking advantage of gravity that allows us to soar. Many thanks to Billy Siegenfeld and the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project for teaching me this many years ago.
“It is the ground not the air that the human body instinctively moves toward when it makes rhythmic accents.” –Billy Siegenfeld, Jump Rhythm® Technique
As much as I love my live/jump loft, it’s just not quite big enough for dance photography. So it was a lot of fun this past Saturday to rent a bigger space for half a day. It’s hard to believe that the last time I did this was almost a year ago.
Pulling together a shoot in just seven days was challenging. I was on the prowl for capoeristas because I noticed that I had no upside down movement in my 52 Project. And, for the first time, I put an ad on craigslist to find dancers. The response was small but rich.
Superstar Kash “pHlauZ” Gaines showed up with half of his closet for wardrobe changes. He and his friend Daniel “Silver” Fiamingo also came with a list of b-boy moves and freezes to run through for me. This was move #3 on their list, and I caught it on the first try.
Upside down? Check!
It will be awhile before I fully process my experience at the 23rd Annual Eddie Adams Workshop. One thing I can say for sure is that I experienced magic at Eddie’s barn.
During a 1:30am portfolio review, an editor flipped to the 2nd page of my book and told me that she remembered seeing my jumping photos during the selection process over the summer when 1,500 photographers applied for 100 spots at the workshop. Her feeling back then was similar to mine: what was this person thinking? Doesn’t she know this is a photojournalism workshop?
I am so glad that doubt didn’t get in anyone’s way, and that I made it to upstate New York this past week. Yes, there were times when I felt like a fish out of water among all the documentary photographers, but it was one-sided. Everyone I met made me feel welcome. And inspiring presentations by Howard Schatz, Al Bello, and Henry Leutwyler showed me that this workshop is for photographers who love movement too.
Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, I spent 11 hours with the superb Gray Team at an adult home for our team assignment “The Fall of Life.” I had picked a name out of a hat that indicated I would be following the Jeffersonville Adult Home’s eldest resident, a 94-year-old man who mostly stayed in bed. Could my assignment have been any more different than what I am used to shooting? No, and that’s the whole point of EAW: be pushed and challenged, get out of your comfort zone, fall, pick yourself back up, stretch, grow, see differently, see more.
It became clear early on that there was zero chance that I would get a shot for this week’s 52 Project while on assignment. With an average of 2.75 hours of sleep each night and days filled with presentations, shooting and editing, I accepted that I wouldn’t even have a chance to take pictures of the autumn foliage while I was there. Then on Monday, the last morning of the 4-day workshop, Miguel Anaya, a workshop participant and former dancer with Bill T. Jones, the White Oak Project and many other dance companies, approached me saying he had seen my portfolio from afar the night before and wanted to talk to me later. I asked why, and he said: Because I’m a dancer.
In a sea of photojournalists, a dancer looking for a photographer found a photographer looking for a dancer. Magic.
Violators subject to citation
Back in 2007, I saw this photo on flickr and swiftly added it to my favorites. More recently my friend Courtney buzzed about these photos. I saw them and knew something was missing: a dancer! So this is my ode to San Francisco, the city I love and where I have lived for almost 5 years. It is a bittersweet one though because I am currently packing up my apartment to move to Oakland. You can take the girl out of the city but not the city out of the girl. I’ll be back, San Francisco, and all the better for it.
Shout outs to Simone, a new dancer in town from San Diego, and Jeanine for being my second eye and voice-activated light. There are many more from this series and I’ll be posting them after the dust settles from my move.
My friend and fellow dance photographer Matthew invited some dancers to do a photo shoot with him in Oakland. He and I met at Lois Greenfield’s workshop in August and the two of us have paired up for a couple of photo shoots to share costs. This time I was his assistant, a second eye, fabric thrower, and spur-of-the-moment extra dancer. It was a nice change of pace. He was generous enough to give me a few moments behind my camera, which is when I got this shot of Nina. I posted a couple of the ones he took that day below.
Check out Jenni’s blog to see the source of inspiration for that black and white shot.
Billy Siegenfeld and Jeannie Hill are two of my favorite dancers in the world.
They have inspired me for 17 years, and I am honored to know them as teachers, mentors, friends and co-conspirators in rhythm making/breaking.
These photos were taken during Jump Rhythm Jazz Project’s 20th Anniversary performances at Dance Center Columbia College.
The video below offers a glimpse at JRJP’s origins and early footage of Billy and Jeannie.