People often ask me if I am or have been a dancer. I’m tall and slender, but without an ounce of athletic talent. If knowing where your body is in space is a sense, like hearing or sight or touch, then I need the equivalent of body-in-space glasses. But, I’ve always loved the idea of dance. I can remember going to the theater or The Nutcracker as a kid. For days afterward, I’d traipse about the house and fling myself along the hallways of my elementary school (along with most of the other girls in my scout troop who had probably gone to the performance too.)
Recently, I’ve been able to get a more grown-up sense of dance. I’ve been working with Ballet Nouveau Colorado for almost two seasons now on a professional and volunteer basis. I take pictures of their professional company’s dress rehearsals, for their school, and for other events a few times throughout the year as I can. I now know enough about dance to be dangerous, without really knowing what the heck I’m on about, but I do know that I will support this company for as long as they’ll let me. I’d like to explain why I feel the way I do, and encourage you if you have no experience with either modern ballet and dance or with this company to check them out for yourself.
I’ve foisted BNC on a number of friends and relations, and it’s always interesting to me to listen to their interpretations and experiences. Perhaps it’s easiest to begin with my interpretations and then address the initial thoughts I’ve heard from others.
For me, dance is an emotional language. It’s an expression of the wordless- intensities with no names. When Meredith Strathmeyer makes her body do this:
it communicates feelings that words with all their categories and limits would somehow cheapen. When Sarah Tallman makes her body do this:
I know exactly what she means.
From an artistic perspective, I appreciate the quality of light (Vance McKenzie, the lighting designer, is great) the lines, the forms of BNC, but unlike photography, dance continues through 4 dimensions. The dancers move and flow through time. It’s the greatest challenge of shooting for them- anticipating the moment- and the one thing I will never be able to quite capture. The flow is transient, and that’s what makes it beautiful.
I also believe that Garrett Ammon and Dawn Fay, BNC’s artistic directors, represent a rising tide that raises all ships. The culture of the company is apparent. It is one of optimism and striving, and especially the exponential growth that comes from collaboration. BNC’s position also seems to be that excellence is certainly important, but without risk that same excellence would be pretty boring. BNC is certainly not boring, and definitely risky. I’ve seen schools of fish and dances lit only with miner’s headlamps, Xbox Kinect controllers operated by dancers and athletic pandas in just the couple years I’ve shot for them.
If you had a disquieting emotional reaction to the terms “modern dance” or perhaps “athletic panda,” you’re certainly not alone. If you don’t have much experience with dance, there can be some things that are a little strange about modern dance that can jar you out of the moment. I still giggle a little bit whenever a dancer rolls on or off stage or whenever there’s a lot of exaggerated modern dance running. I don’t know why- it strikes me funny is all I can say. But after the first somewhat discombobulating experience with those things, I now find it charming. Little things like that are part of the whole, like the rituals of sports or the theatre or even holidays. They might seems strange out of context, but we accept them as a part of the personality of the experience.
There’s also the squeaking of shoes and the panting of dancers. These bits of reality might rattle a first time audience member, as we’re more used to crisp, clean movies and TV shows. Anymore, I appreciate these moments that remind me that this is live, this is happening now, without special effects, with flesh and blood artists, never to be repeated in exactly the same way. There’s something about a live performance…
If you’re looking for a way to ease into the dance experience, BNC’s upcoming show “Garrett Ammon’s Rock Ballets” is the perfect way to go. The show consists of three pieces set to the music of David Bowie, INXS, and Queen, so there’s something familiar to widen the cracks of the unusual and give the uninitiated a foothold. It’s the show that brought me to BNC, and I’m awfully glad it did.
- Garrett Ammon’s Rock Ballets
Three performances only. Tickets are going fast. Get yours today.
- Dates/Times: April 13-15 Fri. & Sat. at 8pm Sun. at 2pm
- Location: Performing Arts Complex at Pinnacle Charter School 1001 W. 84th Ave I Denver, CO 80260
- There is ample free on-site parking available.
- Cost: Prices range from $17-$44, Student/Senior start at $15, Group rates for 10 or more start at $11.90.
- Order tickets: Online at www.bncdance.com or by phone at 303.466.5685
Thank you Amanda Tipton! I just came across this…thank you for all you do. Your photos are marvelous!
Thank you so much Sarah! And thank you for providing such amazing things to photograph!
Your photos capture the freedom and beauty of the BNC dancers. Thank you for sharing.