‣ What are some of the technical issues you need to consider that are specific to photographing stage rehearsals and performances?
I use a fast shutter to freeze action which requires a good lens with a wide aperture. And since stage lighting is not as bright as studio strobes or sunshine, I need high sensitivity in my sensor (digital film). This can create noise or grain which must be dealt with in processing.
Color can also be a problem, as stage lighting is generally tungsten-generated and thus quite warm, or yellow, in appearance. But colored lighting generates mood, so often it would be wrong to adjust to perfect white. For example, the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet is a night scene lit by “moonlight. This is created with soft blue stage lighting and it would be wrong to “correct” white costumes back to pure white in an image which tries to relay the mood of this scene.
Also, as stages are wider than a camera’s normal aspect ratio (width to height) the photographer tends to focus on just one or two dancers rather than the full stage. So the questions arise: How close to shoot? What to frame? Full bodies or close ups? Mid leap or top of kick? And it’s important that we always show only a perfect foot position, pointed and over the box.
‣ Are there any choreographers that you particularly like to photograph?
Of course, Balanchine, who once said “ballet is woman”. His style accentuates extended lines. He chose dancers based on their ability to present drama and emotion in an intelligent and pleasing way. For example, there are hundreds of arabesques and it’s up to me to gauge which one the dancer looks most natural doing.
As far as the other dance genres, Bob Fosse as his choreography incorporates articulation of dancers’ joints, especially arms and fingers, like no one else. Michelle Dorrance for tap; she makes it fun. And several hip hop dancers and choreographers like Little Buck with his incredible athleticism. And Martha Graham, of course. Her choreography encourages the body to move in exaggerated patterns as gravity dictates.
‣ What about favorite roles?
The snake in Ballet X’s Little Prince is one of my many favorite roles to photograph; I love watching how classical dance can integrate into modern.
Also Snow and Coffee in The Nutcracker. The Dying Swan, Firebird, Juliet, the Wilies… the list is quite long.