by Christopher Duggan
When Paul Taylor Dance Company invited me photograph their dress rehearsals, I was really excited to make photographs in the amazing (and enormous!) David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. I had never photographed in that theater before and have always wanted to. It’s a symbol of great performance art, the highest standards, the home of New York City Ballet and synonymous with “uptown” dance. To have the chance to photograph the incredibly talented dancers of Paul Taylor Dance Company on this stage made me smile from ear to ear.
The company’s PR representative welcomed me into the theater and pointed to where I was to photograph from: the back of the house. The New York Times and two other photographers were already set up–but it was FAR from the stage, behind the tech table, center orchestra; seemingly a football field’s distance from the dancers. This just wasn’t going to work for me.
I asked if I could sit any closer. Mr. Taylor would be sitting center orchestra just in front of the tech table, and I was instructed not to sit anywhere in front of him so as not to distract him or disturb his sight-lines.
But front row orchestra left was fair game and I took my position. This made me much happier. I was as close to the dancers as I could be and I was now envisioning my angle for the shoot. My intention was to cut off limbs and to really get intimate. The Paul Taylor dancers are superb technicians, gorgeous at every turn. I wanted to see their sweat. Something like: “Paul Taylor: Up Close.”
I was happy with my results, finding toil and drama and personality in the dancers, even in that enormous theater.
Contributor Christopher Duggan is the founder and principal photographer of Christopher Duggan Photography, a New York City-based wedding and dance photography studio. Duggan has been the Festival Photographer for Jacob’s Pillow Dance since 2006. In this capacity, and as a respected New York-based dance photographer, he has worked with renowned choreographers and performers of international acclaim as well as upstarts in the city’s diverse performance scene.
He has created studio shots of Gallim Dance, Skybetter + Associates and Zvidance, among others, and in 2011 alone, he has photographed WestFest at Cunningham Studios, Dance From the Heart for Dancers Responding to Aids, The Gotham Dance Festival at The Joyce Theater, and assisted Nel Shelby Productions in filming Vail International Dance Festival.
Duggan often teams up with his talented wife and Pillow videographer Nel Shelby (http://nelshelby.com). A New York City-based husband and wife dance documentation team, they are equipped to document performances, create and edit marketing videos and choreography reels, and much more.
Christopher Duggan Photography also covers Manhattan’s finest wedding venues, the Metropolitan and Tri-State areas, and frequently travels to destination weddings. The company’s mission is straightforward and heartfelt – create timeless, memorable images of brides, grooms, their families and friends, and capture special moments of shared love, laughter and joy.
His photographs appear in The New York Times, Destination I Do, Photo District News, Boston Globe, Financial Times, Dance Magazine, Munaluchi Bridal, and Bride & Bloom, among other esteemed publications and popular wedding blogs. One of his images of Bruce Springsteen was added to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s celebrated photography collection in 2010. His company has been selected for inclusion in “The Listings” in New York Weddings magazine.