The time I got to spend photographing American Ballet Theatre ballerina April Rae Giangeruso was an afternoon I’ll never forget! Gracious, intuitive, and abundantly talented, are just a few adjectives to describe one of the newest members of ABT.
Archive for the ‘Dance’ Category
Tags: 2010, ABT, American Ballet Theatre, April Rae Giangeruso, August 25, Ballerina, Black and White Photography, Dance, Photo Shoot, Sly Horse Studio, Tony Powell, www.tonypowell.smugmug.com
Tags: 2010, http://www.synetictheater.org/, May 17, Natalie Berk, Sly Horse Studio, Synetic Theater, The Juilliard School, Tony Powell
Images by Tony Powell • Words by Natalie Berk
I had the honor of being photographed by Tony Powell yesterday. Being my first artistic shoot, it was an enlightening experience. As a young girl on the threshold of a grown-up world, it’s sometimes difficult to shed anxieties and it’s scary giving yourself permission to just relax – but with my Mother at my side holding a big silver reflection board, and Tony cracking jokes, I slowly began to let go.
Working with Synetic Theater has taught me that each body holds its own individual story. Tony, as a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, shares this frame of mind. It’s unbelievable to have an established artist like Tony collaborate with a young artist such as myself. And I am so incredibly lucky to have him to give breath to my artistic visions.
Today I watched some of my own stories come to life through the moments captured by Tony’s lens.
Tags: "Between Time", 2010, ABT, ballet, Baltimore, Baltimore Ballet, Cem Catbas, Elysabeth Catbas, Gala, In Between Time, Lyric Opera House, March 28, Max Richter, MD, Met Opera Ballet, New Jersey Ballet, Tony Powell
It finally happened! My 120th ballet, “Between Time” (no longer “In Between Time,” I dropped the “In”) was successfully given its World Premiere last night at Baltimore Ballet‘s 10th Anniversary Gala. Originally slated to have its first go February 6th, the Gala was postponed until March 28th – the result of last month’s snow storm of epic proportions that we all unwittingly endured.
To top it all off when it came time to reassemble the original members of my cast (8 dancers) I was informed that 2 of them weren’t able to get released from their contracts to perform on the new date, and another was struggling with ankle problems. Instead of throwing in the towel, I chose to remain optimistic and zeroed in on the middle movement of the ballet as a point of departure. It made sense to re-work this section – a pas de quatre or dance for four – and transform it into a work that could live on its own. I’d originally chopped off a minute and a half of the music, by much in-demand composer Max Richter, to balance the flow of the ballet but returned the score to its original length which provided an opportunity to add to the dimension of the pas de deux that opens that section. With each of the four dancers working in and around New York City – ABT, Met Opera Ballet, and New Jersey Ballet – I knew I had to go there (twice last week) if I wanted to bring the piece back to life after the 7-week hiatus.
It was worth EVERY minute! Just after the curtain came down on me bowing with the dancers I left the stage only to be thrust into the arms of a female stagehand that was crying after having watched my piece. We bonded in that moment as we cried together. Who could ask for a greater compliment than that? I realized – maybe for the first time – that I’d been able to translate something very personal to me into something meaningful to others.
Tags: 2010, Candra Preshong, Dance, Delphina Parenti, Impact Dance Company, Kellie Payne, March 20, Photo Shoot, Sly Horse Studio
My first experience – last Saturday – shooting at Sly Horse Studio in Rockville was a great success! I’m giving my first “Capturing Motion” Master Class there April 4th from 1-4pm with top DC dancer Delphina Parenti as the model for the live shooting portion of the workshop. My wife Kellie co-directs a dance company called IMPACT, with fellow dancer and choreographer Candra Preshong. Their need for new promo pix for an upcoming concert provided the perfect opportunity to try out new studio digs. What a relief not to have to lug around a trunk full of equipment for a change. Every piece of equipment I use on a regular basis (except my camera) was available, on-site, for the asking…strobes, soft boxes, reflectors of every stripe, grids, flags, V-cards, etc.
The most convenient aspect of the studio’s setup is the complex overhead rail system! The way in which the strobe lighting system (White Lightning) is affixed to it is ingenious. Each mono-light can be moved up/down/sideways/diagonally to achieve nearly any angle required. Each of the 4 strobes has been wired to lead directly into one commander which allows for light adjustment in one centrally located place. No longer do I have to run back and forth to each lamp adjusting intensities of light. This ability to quickly adjust light levels and light positioning increased my workflow and gave me the freedom to experiment with a wide range of lighting setups.
Tags: 2010, Alys Shee, American Ballet Theatre, ballet, Baltimore Ballet, Busboys and Poets, Devon Teuscher, Heather Desaulniers, Hunt Valley, In Between Time, Jennifer Whalen, Junio Teixeira, Katie Williams, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, MD, New Jersey Ballet, Roxey Ballet, Shannon Schwait, Tony Powell
The snow that never seemed to end yesterday nearly cancelled my first day of work with Baltimore Ballet. I was relieved to see it let up around 9pm while working at the Busboys and Poets on 14th & V. Today’s rehearsal at Baltimore Ballet’s headquarters on York Road in Hunt Valley, MD was more productive than I expected. Three female dancers from American Ballet Theatre - Devon Teuscher, Katie Williams, and Jennifer Whalen - hadn’t arrived yet as they were finishing the last performances of their Kennedy Center run in Washington, DC, so I had a chance to work with, instead, 15 year-old ballet prodigy Alys Shee and four male dancers from Roxey, Baltimore, and New Jersey Ballets. The process was swift and revealing. The ballet I’m making (over the course of this week) will be the 120th I’ve created, and is only the second time I’ve worked in the studio without music as the driving force in the generation of choreography. I found this new approach very freeing, allowing me to focus solely on craft.
CRAZY DAY! The arrival of the 3 ladies from American Ballet Theatre could not have been more anticipated. They are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. We got started right away teaching the three ladies the material that was generated the day before by Alys. At a certain point I knew it was time to put it all together in a way that would be meaningful while paying attention to the limited amount of time I have to create the new ballet.
DAYS 3 & 4
Filmmaker Shannon Schwait came today to make a high definition documentary about the process involved with the making of the piece. It was very strange to talk about the dance in an interview. It’s such an intensely personal work, on one hand a reflection on lost love, and on the other, a celebration of love’s potential.
Every once in a while an idea is so clear in my mind that realizing it in the physical space can seem like an anti-climax. Such was the case when, after slapping on a faux ending on day 3, the true ending made itself apparent to me on day 4 after listening to the music for what must’ve been the 200th time! Instead of simply mirroring the music, I decided, instead, to have the piece finish with the curtain lowering 30 seconds after the music finishes while the dancers continue to move at full throttle.
The image was so arresting to me that it made sense to open the ballet with a similar motif – using it as a way to introduce material that will come later in the work. LAST MOVEMENT FINISHED!
DAYS 5 & 6
There were only a few details of the opening movement that needed to be tweaked. A simple canon for 4 couples that originally finished on a long diagonal with the downstage couple facing toward the audience needed to be reworked – The first couple that finishes en pose couldn’t see the last couple complete the canon, which is the cue for all to continue in unison.
Dance writer, Heather Desaulniers, was in the studio, as well, while I finished work on the middle movement, created for Devon and 3 men. A very tricky final lift involving Junio, Enton, and Devon had to be worked out with spotters a half dozen times. Just before the end of rehearsal we were able to link the three sections together for the first time.
To my great surprise I was able to finish the piece on the 5th day – a day sooner than anticipated. I’m certain it had everything to do with the talent and energy of the dancers as well as getting an early start – the day before the arrival of the women from ABT – with Alys and the 4 men. The news that a massive snowstorm would hit on performance day had everyone questioning whether to persevere or postpone. With Super Bowl Sunday the following day and several dancers needing to catch international flights, Baltimore Ballet directors, Cem and Elysabeth Catbas, decided to reschedule the Gala for Sunday, March 28, 2010.
Tags: a cappella, Alejandra Gonzalez, Baltimore Ballet, Barbatuques, body percussion, Brazil, Chicago, Il, Laura Blatterman, Laura Tomlinson, Linda Sonnenreich, Lisa Gold, Meghan Grantin McDermott, Michael Sonnenreich, North Shore School of Dance, Piel Morena Contemporary Dance, Tony Powell
Receiving a pair of back to back commissions to make new dances for two completely different companies – Piel Morena Contemporary Dance in Chicago and Baltimore Ballet in Maryland added to the, already there, optimism that swept in with the new year.
The past four days here in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago, have been filled with many hours in the studio, culminating in a public showing tonight of excerpts from “Las Mujeres,” (The Women) which when completed, will receive its World Premiere here June 25 -27 at the Vittum Theater in Chicago. The creation of this new work is made possible by the very generous and serious arts patrons Michael and Linda Sonnenreich. I’ve been making this new female quartet at one of Illinois’ most respected studios – the North Shore School of Dance, founded and directed by Lisa Gold.
I’ve been given 8 rehearsals (4 hours a day) here in which to make a finished work, and only 6 rehearsals (5 hours a day) for the Baltimore Ballet piece (with dancers from ABT and other major companies) which starts next weekend, so I’ve had to thoroughly prepare for each.
What intrigues me most about the all female Piel Morena Contemporary Dance is its mission to present Latino inspired works in a contemporary context. While half of my heritage is Brazilian – my mother is from Belem du Para, a city on the banks of the Amazon estuary in the northern part of Brazil – I hadn’t explored it as a source of inspiration for a dance until now. My original plan was to create a piece set to music by all female composers but as I got closer to the start of work I began to feel the pull toward the Latin American side of me.
DAY 6 - Sunday, January 24, 2010
Just when I thought I knew how the piece would shape up I met the brother of one of the dancers after the showing and he suggested I might listen to the music of Brazilian body percussion group Barbatuques. Always attempting to remain open I went back to the hotel and found their music on iTunes. After hearing only a few bars of their wholly original sound – a hybrid of a cappella vocal maneuverings and amplified body slapping – I decided to change the music for the entire piece. Just like that, halfway through the process! That’s never happened before.
DAY 7 - Monday, January 25, 2010
Up all night until 5am trying to figure out how to edit the new Barbatuques music so it would “fit” the amount of choreography I’d already come up for the last section – which had been set to other music (Rodrigo y Gabriela.) After 5 or 6 hours of splicing and rearranging the new Brazilian music in Apple’s Soundtrack program I decided to keep the original music for the last movement and only change the first two sections. There had been some reluctance on my part to mix music by different artists for this piece especially after hearing the strength of the new body percussion group’s music. However, after playing it all together, the variety in music styles wasn’t as disparate as I told myself it would be. It’s actually a nice contrast to go from amplified Brazilian body percussion to a percussive Mexican guitar duo. This piece is turning into one the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had creating a dance. Today’s rehearsal was probably the most productive yet, yielding over 2 and half minutes of material. It took me the first 3 days here to accomplish that amount. At this rate the piece will be completed tomorrow and the following day – Wednesday – for cleaning it all up! Now all my attention is focused on the ballet I begin this Sunday in Baltimore with 8 dancers from American Ballet Theatre, Baltimore Ballet, Roxey Ballet, and New Jersey Ballet.
Tags: 2009, 55 Washington Square South, Ape, Cassie Mey, Cosmati Variations, Crew, Dew, Elisabetta Minutoli, Food, Ice, Judson Church, Katie McGreevy, Kristina Berger, Mass Balance, Molissa Fenley, New York City, NY, Paz Tanjuaquio and Alyssa Lee Wilmot, September 16, STEP, Tony Powell, Wanjiru Kamuyu
September 15 and 17, 2009
Venue: Judson Church, 8pm
Location: 55 Washington Square South, New York City
Program: Ice, Dew, Food, Crew, Ape, music by Alvin Curran and poem, STEP, written and performed live by Bob Holman
Mass Balance, music by Cenk Ergun, prop by Todd Richmond
Cosmati Variations 1-4, music by John Cage
Performed by Kristina Berger, Molissa Fenley, Wanjiru Kamuyu, Katie McGreevy, Cassie Mey, Elisabetta Minutoli, Paz Tanjuaquio and Alyssa Lee Wilmot.
Ice, Dew, Food, Crew, Ape – the New York premiere of a work performed twice: once as set to a score by Alvin Curran and then again danced with STEP a poem written and performed live by Bob Holman.
This work was created while Fenley was in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, February 2009. Alvin Curran’s score was created by his recording the sounds of the Nantucket ship horn against the sound of John Cage’s voice reciting the five monosyllabic words of Curran’s title.
Bob Holman, also in residence at the ACA, watched rehearsals of the work underway, taking notes of phrases said during the choreographic process, directions taken, relationships expressed, movement described. These notes were then translated into the poetic form that is Holman’s work.
Standing in the middle of the stage and surrounded by the dancers moving through the choreography, Holman is sometimes in close proximity to the dancers, sometimes encircled as the dancers continue through their spatial constructions.
Mass Balance – music by Cenk Ergun, prop by Todd Richmond (NY premiere). A solo for Fenley, the work marks the beginning of a new investigation of dances made using a prop designed or suggested by a visual artist.
Fenley carries a 10-foot wooden dowel throughout the piece, experimenting with images of balance and weight. “Mass Balance” refers to the difference between the accumulation of snow and the ablation of ice of glaciers. Yearly measurements have shown a disequilibrium caused by global climate change.
Cosmati Variations are a series of works that Fenley choreographed while in residence at the American Academy in Rome, February-August, 2008.
Each variation is inspired by an aspect(s) of the 11th Century Cosmatesque mosaic pavements present in many of the basilicas and churches in Rome.
The inspirations are in terms of design: T-square and serpentine eyelets; in terms of measurement: movements or spatial travel that require three feet; in terms of ardor: demand of execution and in terms of form: triangles nested within squares.
Tags: 2009, Awards Ceremony, Beverly Blossom, Dance, Jacqueline Green, Martha Hill, Martha Hill Dance Award Gala, Mary Anthony, Mary Hinkson, Murray Louis, November 30, The Cathedral NYC, The Juilliard School, Tony Powell, Virginia Johnson
To say that a quarter of The Cathedral NYC‘s ballroom last night was occupied by living legends of the dance world is not an over statement. Each year around 200 dancers, choreographers, and educators gather to celebrate the life of pioneer in-the-field, Martha Hill. I have the great honor of being the official photographer of the Martha Hill Dance Award Gala and look forward to it each year with great anticipation.
Martha Hill is credited with singlehandedly uniting the chiefs of modern dance, during it’s infancy, and also for laying the groundwork that enabled the discipline to be studied, as a major, in colleges all across the country.
I was very fortunate to have been one of the last students hand-picked by Martha to attend The Juilliard School - where she presided over the dance program for over 30 years. Well into her eighties at the time, Martha Hill was an inspiration like none other, full of energy and insight, wisdom, and compassion.
Ten years ago an award was created to celebrate her life which recognizes 3 individuals each year in 3 different categories of the life arc of a dancer: The Young Professional, The Mid-Career, and The Lifetime Achievement Awards. This year’s event was presided over by choreographer and dancer Murray Louis with awards going to Jacqueline Green, Virginia Johnson, and Beverly Blossom respectively.
Tags: 2009, Alexe Nowakowski, Amanda Polk, Carriage House Studio, Cindy Jones, Curtis Polk, DC, DC Photographers Coop, Evan Jones, Holidae Hayes, Jay Scott, Jayne Sandman, Jeff Dufour, Jessalynn Medairy, Jessica Gibson, Lee Brenner, Lindsay Czarniak, Mark T. Smith, November 25, Patrick Gavin, Pole Pressure, Rock Creek Park, Sharon Yang, Susanna Quinn, The Rookery, Tony Powell, Washington, Winston Lord
An unlikely set of circumstances led to my introduction to top-ranked pole dancer and Pole Pressure studio owner Jessalynn Medairy last week which culminated today in one of the most productive and meaningful photo shoots I’ve ever organized. Productive in that Jessalynn has a work ethic similar to mine and meaningful as it proved to be the right time, the right place, and the right person with which to attempt a fully bare-body outdoor shoot. I’m preparing new work for an exhibit, in the new year, of my large-scale photography, and some of these images are prime candidates for the show.
We almost didn’t meet. After a long night of shooting for Tiffany & Co. in Tyson’s Corner last Saturday, I remembered that my friend Lani Hay had invited me to Jayne Sandman‘s 30th birthday party at the The Rookery. I really wanted to celebrate with Jayne and also to hear (Lani’s husband) Mark T. Smith, Jay Scott, and (Jayne’s husband) Jeff Dufour‘s rock band, which headlined the B-day bash – but my body was asking to get some sleep. I’m glad that better thinking prevailed.
When I arrived, the band was already in high gear and the place was a sea of familiar faces and friends: Holidae Hayes, Winston Lord, Amanda and Curtis Polk, Susanna Quinn, Cindy and Evan Jones, Lindsay Czarniak, Jessica Gibson, Patrick Gavin, Lee Brenner, and Alexe Nowakowski.
I spied an attractive blonde woman hanging out with Sharon Yang and something about her seemed special…but I didn’t know what. I later discover that she was none other than Sharon’s pole dance teacher, Jessalynn Medairy, among the top 12 pole dancers in the US for 2009 and in the top 15 for 2010.
The woman has NO inhibitions – and that distinction shone through, lending the resulting images we created an immediacy that only authenticity can provide. She IS her art and, at least for the 4 hours we were together, we breathed as one. I can’t remember a time when I was more in sync with the person in front of my lens than with Jessalynn. Shooting started early in the afternoon – indoors at the Carriage House Studio, home of the DC Photographers Coop – near 9th and O Sts. The 9.5 foot tension-based pole she brought with her was securely erected within minutes – snugly fitting between floor and ceiling, providing the necessary support for the myriad moves she executed over and over again.
As luck would have it the rain stopped as soon as we finished in the studio so we headed over to Rock Creek Park to a secluded area near The Nature Center. We were able to get in a hundred shots of what I really wanted to shoot: the bare form in space, outdoors, in nature. We erected her portable stage and 10 foot pole right there in the middle of the woods. My strobes were being powered outside by one of two sine wave inverters that I own, which gives me roughly 300-400 full power bursts of light with as many lights as needed, attached. The only disadvantage of working with an inverter is not being able to use the modeling light on a strobe head for any length of time, as the battery will deplete quickly or worse yet, the inverter can become damaged.
An additional sign of support from the Universe came in the form of the Sun – it showed it’s face the second I was set up and ready to take my first shot. That bit of Sun changed everything for the better so the portable lighting was repositioned to allow the Sun to be my rim light. We’ve planned our second shoot together once she returns from an International pole dance tour of England and France.
She’s heading to Europe today for a week of competitions, teaching, and workshops. A dancer, choreographer, and teacher of dance myself, I found the newness of her very specific movement style intriguing, forever expanding my limited conception of movement and portraiture.
Tags: Black and White Photography, Body Language, Dancers and Models Wanted, Dancers Call, Delphina Parenti, Model Call, Tony Powell
DANCERS AND BODY MODELS CALL!
If interested, direct message me at email@example.com instead of responding to this post or call me at 301.343.7805. I’m preparing for a gallery show – Body Language - of new images captured in darkness, experimenting with the effect of light on bodies in motion and at rest.
Looking for uninhibited, spontaneous dancers/models between the ages of 18-26 to collaborate with on this project. Up to 6 photos will be given to each dancer/model to add to your portfolio.
All photos taken in a safe, relaxed, and professional environment with a maximum time commitment of 3 hours. Forward this post to anyone you think fits the criteria and may be interested. Thanks, Tony
Tags: 2009, ARKA Ballet, Brooke Kidd, Dance, DC Cowboys, Furia Flamenca, Helen Hayes, Highland Fling, Joy of Motion Youth Dance Ensemble, Judy Hansen, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Martha Graham, Maryland Youth Ballet, Metro DC Dance Awards, Pola Nirenska Award, Richard Move, September 14, Septime Webre, Terrace Theater, Therrell Smith, Virginia Johnson
Click here to see and purchase the photos!
One of my favorite times of the year is when the entire DC dance community comes together to recognize and support each other’s efforts at the Metro DC Dance Awards. This year’s ceremony, held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts’ Terrace Theater, was one of the most entertaining yet. We were all treated to a rare visit by “Martha Graham,” actually the NY-based female impersonator Richard Move, who, as the evening’s emcee, was able to channel Graham in a way that was both realistic and endearing.
Move’s devotion to Graham is apparent and his life’s work of imitation and total immersion has become an art form in and of itself. There were dance performances galore – scattered throughout the evening – beginning on the Millennium Stage at 6pm where the youth awards were given out, to the main event in the Terrace: Furia Flamenca, Joy of Motion Youth Dance Ensemble, ARKA Ballet, and Maryland Youth Ballet, were just a handful of the city’s brightest lights, from the local dance scene, to perform.
There was something for everyone – ballet, modern dance, flamenco, and even the dancing DC Cowboys!! I was overjoyed to see so many of my friends in one place and many of them winning awards: Septime Webre and the Washington Ballet for last season’s beautifully conceived, Celtic-inspired evening of ballet in the Eisenhower – Highland Fling (I went twice), Gesel Mason receiving the Pola Nirenska Award, my new friends Delphina Parenti and Jason Ignacio both receiving the award for Outstanding Individual Performance, Helen Hayes winning for Outstanding Achievement in Dance Education, and Brooke Kidd receiving the Kriegsman Award!
The climax of the evening’s honors was the acceptance speech given by the internationally-renowned, Washington-trained prima ballerina and magazine editor Virginia Johnson, for her lifetime achievement in dance. In accepting the Pola Nirenska Award, she stressed the importance of talking about dance to people who are not involved in the field, about engaging those that may otherwise not have access to the arts. A high point for me was having an opportunity to photograph Virginia with her first ballet teacher, 91 year-old Therrell Smith, who attended last night’s ceremony.
After the tightly produced show we all went over to the Watergate’s 600 Restaurant to mingle the night away! Over 700 photos will soon be available for purchase and download.
Click here to see and purchase photos!
Tags: 2009, Amy Rydell, Anne Meara, Barbara Barrie, DC Arts Center, DCAD, Donovan House, Field Work, Grand Master Yong Sung Lee, Hapmudo, http://www.dcartscenter.org/, Joyce Theater, Juilliard, Kevin Roots, Lily Mazahery, Manhattan School of Music, Mark Rydell, Matt Davis, Nikolais/Louis, On Golden Pond, Roof Top, September 2, Steve Reich, Sylvana Sandoz, Tony Powell
I was reminded of my college years last night when I managed to make it to 3 events in a row. As a student at Juilliard, in New York City, going to multiple performances was an almost nightly occurrence. I remember darting out from the Joyce Theater, having just seen Nikolais/Louis to make it up to NY State Theater in time to catch the last half of a City Ballet performance. Or hearing a percussion ensemble work by Steve Reich at Manhattan School of Music and trying to then make the curtain of Alvin Ailey at City Center. The only difference is we didn’t have cars then…it was the 1, 2, 3, A, C, B, D, 4, 5, or 6.
It wasn’t until Amy Rydell, my best friend at the time and daughter of ”On Golden Pond” director, Mark Rydell, came along in my senior year, that I learned to take cabs and the bus. Very civilized modes of transportation indeed.
We used to see Ben Stiller’s comedienne mama Anne Meara on the bus as well as actress Barbara Barrie. I miss those days when there seemed to be more time for public transportation, but it would have taken over an hour and a half last night and 3 different buses to get to The Palisades area of DC from where I live in Maryland, to Key Elementary School, at the invitation of Kevin Roots, to learn more about Hapmudo, a system of self-defense based on fundamental offensive and defensive techniques taught there by Grand Master Yong Sung Lee. Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Grandmaster Lee came with his family to the United States in the 1970’s. After many years of teaching in Korea and the United States, Grandmaster Lee opened his own Studio on September 15, 1983. I didn’t know what to expect, but as I walked in I recognized a familiar face, Global Village publisher Matt Davis, and a few minutes later, another, Lily Mazahery. I’d studied some forms of kung-fu growing up but this was something wholly different in it’s approach.
Hapmudo is based on the theory of circular defense as opposed to direct defense. Direct defense may cause injury and may be unsuccessful against greater power whereas Hapmudo’s circular defense requires little power but much knowledge and skill. These delicate techniques will overcome brute force almost always.
The meaning of the word Hapmudo is “the way to combine mind and body power for World Peace”
Hapmudo is a complete Martial Art where you receive a full and well-rounded Martial Arts education. You will learn the Mental and Spiritual benefits of the Martial Arts as well as training in the Physical aspects. It is also includes training in 72 weapons starting with the nunchaku, staff, sword, fan, cane, rope, knife, etc.
For more information about Hapmudo instruction visit the studio’s website here.
The drive from the Palisades over to the DC Arts Center in Adam’s Morgan wasn’t bad at all. I couldn’t help but think of the destruction caused by the fire that gutted the home of Peggy Cooper Cafritz as I passed Chain Bridge Road where Loughboro Rd. turns into Nebraska Ave. I drove by there the other day and couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
I’d never been to the DCAC but I promised dancer and long-time friend Sylvana Sandoz that I would come watch her solo – one of five – that was being presented there as part of Field Work for Mixed Disciplines: Works in Progress. The literal definition of a black box theater, the DCAC is one of the most intimate venues for live performance I’ve ever seen. The Field/DC and the Dinner Party, the monthly performance series of experimental dance, music, and performance art, is organized by Ilana Silverstein, who also contributed a solo.
All of the photos from this performance can be seen at: www.tonypowell.smugmug.com
Since I’m photographing the work of the brilliant modern dancer and choreographer Molissa Fenley at the Judson Church in New York City very soon, I seized the opportunity that this performance provided to get in some practice shooting in extremely low light. Some of my favorite people in the DC dance community were there: dance critics Carmel Morgan and George Jackson (one of my first champions), choreographer Nancy Havlik (I’m on her board), dancer/choreographers Boris Willis and Laura Schandelmeier, and arts blogger Ellen Chenoweth.
Tags: Ashley Taylor, Becca Glover, Capital Fringe Festival, Carmel Morgan, Contradiction Dance, Coventry Burke, Dance, Hyphen, In the Flesh, jenny Saville, John Currin, Kelly Mayfield, Marybeth Coleman, Meera Woolfe, Modern Art, Nude, Once Upon a Prom, Paint Made Flesh, Phillips Collection, Smith Point, Tony Powell
Last night’s triple header started out with a visit to the Phillips Collection, probably the best chamber-sized museum in the country. I’d heard so much talk about the new artwork on view there now, that when I was invited by my friend Kelly Mayfield to see her new choreography being performed there, it seemed like a no-brainer. It was also an opportunity to try out my brand new Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM prime lens in very low light. As part of the Capital Fringe Festival, her fledgling company, Contradiction Dance, comprised of six diverse dancers, staged an hour-long dance piece inspired by the “Paint Made Flesh” exhibit currently running on the top floor of the museum. As I was photographing the performance, I felt a hand tap me on the shoulder. It was my friend and local dance impresario Meera Wolfe, who had just come down from the exhibit. From her whispered description, I knew I needed to see the paintings that inspired the dance that we were watching.
Like the excellent but smallish exhibit upstairs, her work explores a wide range of themes associated with flesh – physical attractiveness, disfigurement, aging, and sensuality, among others. Comprised of duets, solos, spoken words, and group interactions, “In the Flesh,” challenges us to examine our own conception of beauty and to ultimately question the origin of those beliefs. Mayfield and company continued this exchange of ideas in the post-performance Q & A with the audience.
It’s such a small World! Meera was taking in the evening with the internet-based dance critic Carmel Morgan and yoga instructor Amy Dara Stoltz. Carmel says she knows of me via one of my Juilliard classmates Elizabeth McPherson, an esteemed author and dance educator. The four of us take in the artwork together. The 40 paintings that comprise the show are wildly different from one another, yet they all contain the common thread of humanness. The savagery of war, the beauty of the human form, the fleeting nature of love, the inevitability of death, all play out through pigments on canvas, paper, and board. Hyphen, by Jenny Saville has to be seen in person to feel the full effect of the work’s wall-sized brilliance. Hyphen begs one to find beauty in the seemingly grotesque depiction of the artist and her sister. I wanted to touch the canvas – the paint being so thickly applied in some areas. The strongest works for me, by far, were the pieces by Francis Bacon, Eric Fischl, Willem deKooning, and Lucian Freud. California artist Richard Diebenkorn was represented by a minor work of figuration which served to solidify my belief that his “Ocean Park” series is one of the most important collections of abstract paintings of the 20th century. I went to Juilliard with Diebenkorn’s granddaughter Phyllis and she had a miniature painted by him, for her, on the wall of her apartment at the Hotel Narragansett @ 93rd and Broadway. None of our friends realized just how valuable a piece of art it was at the time. But I knew.
All of the photos from the Contradiction Dance after party can be seen at: www.tonypowell.smugmug.com
After viewing the art we met up with the dancers at Darlington House for a cast party/cocktail party before I needed to leave to go over to Smith Point, for Washington Life Magazine, to cover Ashley Taylor‘s fundraiser. The bad weather didn’t dampen the spirits of those who braved the rain to show there support for Once Upon a Prom, a non-profit dedicated to providing prom dresses and scholarships to under served young women in the Nation’s Capitol. Ashley’s new boyfriend Jared Cohen was there, as well as Coventry Burke, Heather Guay, Lindsay Craig, Hadley Gamble, Tate Yost Lett, Gabrielle Malman, Becca Glover, Marybeth Coleman, Sara Lang, and Anna VanMeter. Just before leaving, my friend, the writer Carol Joynt, popped in from the rain with two of her pals and unwound in a back room. I’m very comfortable behind the camera so I got a little nervous when Ashley asked me to be IN a shot with everyone. We all had a great time inside while it poured down heavily outside.
“Once Upon a Prom” photos can be found on the Washington Life Magazine website: www.washingtonlife.smugmug.com
Tags: Boris Willis, Cara Pomponio, Caroline Frankil Warren, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center Executive Director, dance critic, Dance/Metro DC, Doug Yeuell, Gesel Mason, Harriet Williams, Helanius Wilkins, Helix Lounge, Hotel Helix, Joy of Motion, Master tap teacher, Meera Wolfe, Naima Prevots, Nancie Woods, Peter DiMuro, Summer Dance Party, Susan Shields, Susie Farr, Tony Powell, Vincent Thomas, VT Dance, Yvonne Edwards
End of Year Dance Party hosted by Dance/MetroDC – View all the photos at: www.tonypowell.smugmug.com
Area Washington, DC dancers, dance teachers, administrators, and choreographers kicked off the summer season with a cocktail party last night at the trendy Hotel Helix on Rhode Island Avenue. It was an opportunity to catch up with some of my long-time dance friends, as well as to make some new ones. Hosted by Dance/Metro DC, which provides resources, promotion, and collaborative opportunities for the dance community in the Metropolitan DC area, the mood in the courtyard of the Helix Lounge was upbeat and festive. Since my own ballet company disbanded in 2002, I’ve been fortunate to work on various companies around the country. This choreographer-for-hire status took me away from the local dance scene, except for my photography and design for Washington Ballet, DanceSmith, 3 Dancers, and a few pieces of mine performed by visiting companies. Nonetheless, I felt right at home!
Some of the most talented dance minds in DC were there: choreographer/dancers Gesel Mason, Helanius Wilkins, Susan Shields, Vincent Thomas, and Boris Willis, Dance/Metro DC Director Peter DiMuro, Ballet Instructors Harriet Williams, Nancie Woods and Caroline Frankil Warren, Master tap teacher Yvonne Edwards, dance promoter Meera Wolfe, educator-turned-critic Naima Prevots, Joy of Motion Director Doug Yeuell, arts advocate Cara Pomponio, and Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center Executive Director, Susie Farr.
Tags: 600 New Hampshire Avenue, Carla Perlo, Cheles Rhynes, Dan Burkholder, Doug Yeuell, Edgeworks, Enoch Chan, George Jackson, Gesel Mason, Harriet Williams, Helanius Wilkins, Helen Hayes, Jean Battey Lewis, Joy of Motion, Judy Hansen, Karen J Reedy, Katerina Kopsida, Kennedy Center, Laura Diserio, Lesole, Lynn Joslin, Meera Wolfe, Metro DC Dance Awards, Nejla Yatkin, Pola Nirenska, Susie Farr, Vin Grabill, VT Dance, Washington Ballet, Watergate, Ziva Cohen
It’s that time of year again. AWARDS TIME!! DC finally has the dance equivalent of the theatre community’s Helen Hayes Awards – The Metro DC Dance Awards. It seemed as though everyone in the DC dance world was there and I couldn’t have been happier. The reception and silent auction that followed the Awards Ceremony was held at the Watergate’s 600 New Hampshire Avenue.
I decided to take my point and shoot camera along – I needed a break from carrying around my usual 10 pounds of gear – to see how the shots would turn out. I don’t think I’ll try that again. Not too bad for the first time using it in a party situation, but I still don’t know what I’m doing with a point and shoot. Give me a Hasselblad, Canon or Nikon SLR any day.
I got to see some of old friends and to make some new ones: Jonathan Jordan, Sona Kharatian, Carla Perlo, Helanius Wilkins, Katerina Kopsidas, Helen Hayes, Judy Hansen, Harriet Williams, Meera Wolfe, George Jackson, Jean Battey Lewis, Nejla Yatkin, Gesel Mason, Cheles Rhynes, Karen J Reedy, Doug Yeuell, Lesole Maine, Vincent Thomas, Vin Grabill, Lynn Joslin, Dan Burkholder, Ziva Cohen, Laura Diserio, Enoch Chan, and many others!
Tags: ballet, Charles Ives, choreography, Dance, dance photography, Eliot Feld, Juilliard School, Over the Pavement, Paul Dennis, stage, Tony Powell
BLAST FROM THE PAST! I finally have some proof that I danced way back when. That’s me in the center hogging the stage. Thanks to Paul Dennis, stage left of me, for dusting off his collection of photos from back in the day. I found this photo on Facebook. Probably the most difficult piece I ever danced. Nonstop counting. Great experience working with Feld. He never screamed at me. I felt sorry for some of the others.
Eliot Feld’s “Over the Pavement.” Music by Charles Ives
Tags: Alvin Ailey, ballet, Camille Brown, choreography, Dance, Deconstruction, group piece, Hope Boykin, Judith Jamison, Philadanco, Steve Reich, summer sizzler, Tony Powell, Zane Booker
Ahh! Summer in Washington, DC. Everyone heads off to the Hamptons, the Cape, the Vineyard, or other destinations fantastic. With very few parties to photograph for the magazine over the summer, I very happily accepted an invitation from Alvin Ailey School Director Denise Jefferson to create a new ballet.
Two, 3-hour, days a week throughout the month of July produced my newest work, “Deconstruction,” for sixteen dancers, set to the music of Steve Reich. Sooooo proud of their hard work and dedication! Special thanks to Jennifer for your help in the studio as well as your dancing onstage. The piece premiered July 31st and exceeded my expectations.
Thanks Denise for the opportunity!
Highlight of the rehearsal process: Judith Jamison coming into the rehearsal, unannounced one day, and actually watching me work for a few minutes. Whenever she’s around I end up saying and doing some of the dumbest things. I have so much respect for her that I can barely think of what to say when I bump into her. It’s funny because I am around some of the most famous people on the planet on a regular basis. Can’t figure that one out.
I pray to make a ballet for the main Ailey company someday. Truly some of the greatest dancers alive!
UP NEXT – a new ballet for PHILADANCO that will premiere in the Spring of 08′. I have a really good feeling about this one. 4 World Premieres by Camille Brown, Hope Boykin, Zane Booker, and me, Tony Powell. I’m still pinching myself.