there is only now

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I am such a huge fan of New York City Ballet’s 2016-2017 campaign.  It’s somehow both hauntingly timeless and incredibly current; a breathing incantation of Balanchine’s mantra “There is only now.”  The captivating video and stunning photos by Peter Lindbergh are just dreamy, and his musings on the special art of capturing ballet dancers are truly poetic…New-York-City-Ballet-2016-2017-03.jpgnew-york-city-ballet-2016-2017-07New-York-City-Ballet-2016-2017-06.jpgnew-york-city-ballet-2016-2017-01new-york-city-ballet-2016-2017-02-762x1024New-York-City-Ballet-2016-2017-04.jpg

“With dance, it is about capturing movement, which is everything I love.  It leaves space for the unexpected, as the same movement is never twice the same.”

-Peter Lindbergh

from the h o u s e

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Ballet is a living art form.  Its makers do not produce something to be hung and admired, used, or stored for the enjoyment of a future audience.  It is breathing and fleeting.  After a step has been made, so too it has vanished.  When a performance concludes, all that is left is a memory.

What a magical thing then, when another artist, in this case a photographer, is able to catch a bit of that living art and preserve it in time.  I am grateful to any brave soul who attempts the frustrating task of photographing moving art- especially one as precise and with such perfectionist authors as ballet dancers-  so much so, that I am able (in most instances, ha) to overlook technical imperfections and admire, commend, and spread the beauty such carefully captured art.

A small collection of photographs taken at a dress rehearsal, by the courageous and talented Saulius Ke

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whirlwind

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in a whirl of tulle

and white lights

and lace

rosin’d pointes rock away

sticky grid lock

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parties move on

from Silberhaus to 

my own

a growing tree stacks its dust

where festive bulbs

once shone

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flower petals brown

in dark skips where

they lie

whispering of stale sweets

and waltzes 

gone by

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gauzy ghosts of dancers

now wisp in 

their place

flooding the empty theater

with a harrowed

hallow grace

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final bits of chalky snow

flake away and off

the stage

a calendar completely cracked

it must be time to turn

the page…

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creepy poetry by a sleepy me, photos of FBP dancers by the talented Jacob Hoover.

for more from Mr. Hoover and his ultra cool camera, head on over here.

in the studio: coma

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I thought it would be fun to share some rehearsal photos from Coma, a ballet I can’t seem to ever get enough of.  Last year when we did Boundless Plotnikov, I posted a rambling of “viktorisms”, little tidbits of interesting language used throughout the rehearsal process.  More of a random narrative for my own personal archives than an engaging article, the post proved to be pretty fun to write, so I thought I’d do another, Coma edition, to accompany these rehearsal shots.  A bit darker than last year’s rant, I’ll admit, but this is a state of comatose we’re talking about now…

“Get out of your skin.”  Viktor describes the entrapped feeling of an unchangeable disaster like being suffocated in a prison of your own body.  He often asks dancers to perform movements as if they are desperately trying to escape this invisible chokehold, scratching their skin down to the bones always driven by frustration and sadness, never anger.

Hollow bodies, we ghost from one point to another.  Like a “glitch” in a computer screen, you never quite see us until we’ve assembled, and even then we are “transparent”.

Empty metal cubes form a frame for the passage from our world to theirs.  They are tangled and bound up in it, unable to pass through, but with a bit or urgency I am staring straight into a line of grieving loved ones shrugging why.

A stark contrast, the third movement often references “our childhoods”, wiggling our toes up to the sky like babies who see their feet for the first time every time they catch a glimpse of the great toed-wonders.  We feel the sun on our faces in a dream we wish to never wake from.

Octopus, citizens and green cards, screaming through your hand, half crucifix/half wings, big mama, pulling on the reins, petrushka, and pinocchios.

For tickets to see Juxtapose.

all photos by Dylan Giles for Festival Ballet Providence.

downtown dancing

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“Okay, go now!  Wait, no no no, run!  Car!”  Not your typical photoshoot soundtrack, but then again, this was by no means your typical photoshoot…

I was introduced to the work of Andrew Mariner through social media (#2014), where I was drawn to his avant guard approach to ballet photography and immediately started picturing Providence’s highly photogenic cityscape reflecting in his lens.  I decided to reach out to Andy about getting together for a shoot as part of his ballet series, and several weeks later, I was darting into the center of the financial district, dodging cars in my pointe shoes, Alex tossing me around in all different positions (sheesh, that boy is strong!).  Yes, people were staring at us as we “fished” through traffic or pushed up into a press over the Providence River.  But, you know, I felt oddly comfortable rocking a tutu on Westminster Street…sort of just blended in with the, let’s just say eclectic, wardrobes splashing around RISD’s campus.

Andy’s sharp eye and undeniable ability to capture that perfectly imperfect moment is what I admire most about his photography.  He came prepared, with a selection of locations and ideas ripe for collaboration.  Of course Alex and I were all too pleased to indulge!  We have become quite good at working together on spontaneous experiences of this nature, as you may recall.  Always a pleasure working with old friends, and making new ones as well.

PS- No, we did not plan our coordinating Christmas-colored outfits, but we were quite excited by the adorable, thematic serendipity :)

PPS- all photos by Andrew Mariner.

collaborations

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After a long first week back in the studio, tomorrow marks FBP’s first public event of the season:  Collaborations.

Brainchild of FBP principle dancer, Vilia Putrius, this project combines Ms. Putrius’ impeccable aesthetic with the photographic talents of Cemal Ekin and an eclectic selection of the vast array of natural beauty Rhode Island has to offer.  Over the course of a year, twelve dancers from the company were selected and shot in various locations, each portraying a famous character from a major ballet.  The resulting images will be turned into a calendar for the coming new year.  I am so honored to have been included in this stunning series (I got to play Princess Aurora from The Sleeping Beauty for a day- dream come true!), and can hardly wait for the unveiling of the final prints at tomorrow night’s premiere.  In addition to a gallery-showing of the prints and live auction, the company will be holding open rehearsals of our newest works, inviting the public in for an exclusive sneak peek at what’s in store for November’s round of Up Close On Hope.  If you are in the Rhode Island area, do consider stopping by and checking out the collection.  For more information, read what photographer Cemal Ekin has to say about the process and his observed comparisons between visual and performing arts.  For tickets to the event, click here.

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photos by Jim Turner and Vilia Putrius

lights, camera

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“What time is it?”

“You know what, I have absolutely no idea.  We’ve been in this black hole for so many hours…is it still Wednesday?”

-A and I at 3:30 pm 3 Wednesdays ago, volleying exhausted sentiments at the end of a 6-hour dance day.  The studio that we spend our lives in had been completely blacked out for our viedo shoot.  Dark curtains covered the big windows, the fluorescent lights were extinguished- there would be nothing for the strangely live dust bunnies to cling to but the fierce lights that spotted us, most times from behind.  With the free Seven Stars lunch (possibly the highlight of an already exceptionally interesting day) still fresh in our gracious mouths, A and I pondered the allusive hour, realized what a long time we had been working for, and exchanged an unplanned nod of pride towards each other.  We had one segment left to shoot, and it was, without a conference, our favorite.

Stepping back into the center of the studio, we took our positions for the “spinny sequence”, between a backpack-sized camera and one blinding spotlight.  As we danced our last section, the two objects moved on human legs, slowly circling around us, mimicking our revolution.  Now this is a real black hole, A and I agreed with our eyes.  Just keep spinning, one more take, and we might be released from it’s spiraling suction.

“That’s a wrap!”, the director led our celebratory applause before embarking on his round of handshakes and high fives.  It was the second week of summer and already we’d filmed a music video- talk about starting off the new season with a bang.

Stay tuned for updates as the music video for Boston’s own, The Bynars, “Time vs. Money”, progresses through editing and into it’s final cut.  Can’t wait until the launch and premiere, so I can finally share the full project!

photo stills from Time vs. Money, via Shaun Clarke