Featured Image: Akram Khan’s iTMOi
Performance is about space, time, emotions, and dynamics, whilst photography, somewhat detached from the performance, is a tiny fraction of time and is two-dimensional.
The challenge here is no different to what it has been in all aspects of photography. As photographers we have to look at a scene and moment in time, and somehow convey our emotional experience to the viewer, via a rather static medium. We do this primarily through composition, and the balance of colour, light and shade, within a framed space.
In dance specifically we have to convey the notion that what we are looking at was transitional. That can be achieved by composition: so placing a dancer within a frame in a position and alignment that clearly illustrates the dynamic and direction of travel. As more dancers are involved the composition gets increasingly complicated, with varied directions of travel and dynamics.
Performance photographers have little choice about the lighting quantity and quality: something that we can always point out when things don’t work out. But we are equally keen to accept the credit when the lighting is beautiful, costumes appropriate, and dancers superb.
This image from Akram Khan’s iTMOi, photographed last year at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, is a favourite of mine because all elements come together to illustrate these points. The photograph provides the transitional moment. The lighting is beautiful, as are the costumes, and the dancers present a balanced framing around the startling contrast of the women in white: the guy on the left and the woman on the right bringing closure so that the eye cannot drift out of the frame. What brings a special element to the picture is the dancers are clearly in character, and that does not always happen in press calls.
For me this image has emotion. Of the countless images I take in a year I consider myself fortunate if that happens once or twice a year.