Shooting "Soloiste"

February 27, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Saturday evening was devoted to photographing the Pacific Theatre Ballet/Pacific Ballet Conservatory production of "Soloiste".  This is an annual project featuring solo variations, as well as a collection of pieces featuring duets and larger groups from the Pacific Ballet Conservatory's advanced ballet students.  As I've said previously, I like shooting in this venue, the Laguna Hills Community Center, even though it's a multipurpose room with a small stage.  The lighting is predictable and consistent throughout the production, even though it is not even across the stage.  That means that you can get different exposures and moods depending on where the dancer(s) happen to be at any particular point in the piece.  Cross-lighting at center stage gives way to strongly directional lighting at both sides, producing significantly different looks during each performance.  The halogen lighting provides a warmth that I like, although I've cooled it down a bit in this image.

Another reason I like shooting "Soloiste" is that I get to focus mainly on one dancer.  That removes another significant variable in capturing the precision that ballet photographs should provide.  I can then focus my energy and attention to what the solo dancer is doing, and try to anticipate the critical millisecond that is the peak of the movement.  I don't always capture it, especially if I haven't seen the dance before, but I prefer not to shoot in a burst mode, so I get what I can.  Somehow, burst shooting a ballet performance just doesn't seem quite right to me.  

The other aspect that I try to capture is the expression of the dancer.  While some younger dancers obviously try to work through stage fright and just get through a performance, other more seasoned dancers like these ladies embody the emotion of the music and choreography and allow it to play on their faces.  In this piece from "Raymonda" (above), Lauren expresses the full range of emotions, but this particular moment looks to me like it's all business.  It could be an advertisement for the designer of this rich and elegant costume, Rebecca Bush, which in fact Lauren and I have, on another occasion, actually done.


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