By Lizzie Leopold
For a long time I was a rabid supporter of liveness, a performance purist. Dance happens on the stage, audience and dancer sharing space and time, communicating body to body.
Then I met Arn Klein. I was in a situation that lots of young choreographers find themselves in. I needed to save some money. I was premiering a new work and needed some press photos but couldn’t afford to hire anyone. In a last ditch effort, I blindly emailed the Chicago Photography Center – a former neighbor of ours when we were in residence at the Lakeview YMCA.
I introduced myself and explained simply that I was looking for someone, anyone, who might be interested in taking photographs of dance. My email was forwarded onto their instructors and in a week I had a response.
Arn Klein first visited our rehearsal in January. We talked briefly about trying to capture movement within the frame, as overly posed dance photographs are a personal pet peeve. I’ve seen one too many perfectly placed arabesques, beautiful and boring. He took the idea and ran with it.
The result was an incredible blur of colors, an abstraction and melding of the body and the dance. For someone who was completely new to dance, he was fearless and unbound.
Session number two was in June, adding photographer Matthew Gregory Hollis to the mix. He too is an instructor at the Chicago Photography Center and was anxious to explore dance. The results were night and day. The photographs are sharp, clean and precise, lit exquisitely. He seems to have captured the inhale, leaving the photograph full of potential and threatening to dance itself.
It has only been a few short months and we have already taught each other so much. I continue to learn about the power of the photograph, not simply as a tool for capture but as a dance-maker itself.
My preference for live performance comes from the need for suspense and surprise. Live performance always has an element of “What will happen next?’ It is never the same dance twice. Arn’s photographs have brought that sense of immediacy and uncertainty to the still picture. Looking at his pictures show me parts of my choreography that I never knew existed.
In the coming months we will continue to explore choreography through photography and photography through choreography. The photographs will be shown at the Chicago Photography Center in late fall 2011. Visit www.leopoldgroup.org for more information and see the photographs.
(Arn Klein: www.picsimage.com)
(Matthew Gregory Hollis: http://theobsessiveeye.blogspot.com)