The Dance/Memory project is an ongoing photographic journey that has led me to photograph over 20 dancers in the two years. What I seek is to capture something at the very heart of dance. The images I choose to make are images rooted in truth and authenticity of dancers in the act dancing and present with every fiber of their being. They are the images that form a nexus of body, mind and spirit, and which make indelible impressions in our memories and our souls.
With thousands of images already having been made, I am currently in the process of making photopolymer gravures out of about 27 pieces in the series. Since this is a time-intensive process that requires many hours for a single image to be made, I will continue making photopolymer gravures and new work with dancers throughout this year and beyond. I am currently scheduling opportunities to share this work in exhibits at galleries and in educational institutions, as well as to share a multi-media presentation of the images and my photographic process and journey in making this series.
Dance is the perfect expression of body, mind and spirit. It is freedom, release, joy, power and storytelling in a common language that is understood by all cultures. Dance also is a fleeting art form that exists most fully only in the moment it is being performed. When it is over, we are left with subjective, partial impressions of the experience. And, as time goes on, our memory of the performance may blur and morph until it becomes a single image or series of images or simply a vague remembrance of a feeling that defines our experience.
This work strives to describe the experience of the memory of dance and how each of us selects various moments, mental images, meaning and subtext to remember long after the dance performance is over.
Since 2013 I have been working with dancers in various styles of dance, both as small groups and soloists. I create a black box theatre in my studio and work carefully and painstakingly with dancers to photography them performing either prepared works or improvisations based on themes. Because of my background as a dancer and choreographer, I am also occasionally choreograph specific sequences for the dancers. I get to know the dancers I'm working and the way they move. This helps inform the way I capture them. I want the dancers to know that it is important that I'm photographing them as authentically as possible and ask that they "feel" their themselves inside their bodies while they move. This is a long term, ongoing project and I will continue photographing dancers through 2014 and beyond.
In order to achieve a sense of passing time, motion, and the idea of memory blurring, I experimented with slow shutter speeds, multiple exposures and finally settled on using Lensbaby lenses. This allowed me to emulate tilt/shift blurring to capture the effects that best fulfilled my vision and purpose. With these remarkably simple and creative lenses, I was able to achieve a variety of effects from soft-focus to selective-focus to bring the eye to an element that caught my eye in the performance and create blur to suggest motion in a dream-like manner.
The work is very personal for me. I was a dancer and choreographer who left dance in my early 30's due to a severe injury and surgery. While I was dancing and choreographing, I often thought about how transient the experience of dance is and how I wished for images of dances I created that captured the essence of movement, story and expression. Having transitioned from dance to photography as my creative medium over the past decade, this project allows me to explore these concepts from the other side of the proscenium arch and to create them as through the scrim of memory.