What better subject in photography than a dancer’s limber body in movement or mid-flight? Whether wearing ballet dancing shoes or contemporary dance clothing, a superb dancer will captivate the lens.
This time around, it’s another dancer turning the camera on himself and his fellow dancers.
Mikhail Baryshnikov is both photographer and subject, along with other dancers in various dance accessories, in the exhibition called “Dance this Way,” opening in the Nader Art Center in Miami, Florida.
The exhibition covers a broad spectrum of dances as Baryshnikov takes photographs of dancers in different dance clothing and genre, from ballet, modern, ethnic, popular dance, and hip-hop.
In his exhibition notes, the 64 year-old Baryshnikov, himself still a very commanding presence, aspires for the show to be both descriptive and arresting. He aims to reveal what he sees and at the same time encourage the dancers to move onto the camera.
There are parts of the dancer’s body that the audience does not often notice because of special constraints and distance between spectator and performer. Baryshnikov aims to highlight these aspects of dance, bringing closer the experience to the audience through photography.
Because of his stature in the dance world, Baryshnikov may just be the perfect photographer for the subject, since he has access to all kinds of dance stages in the world. Currently the artistic director at his own Arts Center in New York City, he was born in Latvia and was became a star in the ballet circuit of the Soviet Union. Baryshnikov then moved to perform with prestigious ballet companies all over the world.
Gallery-owner Gary Nader is thrilled to have a man of Baryshnikov’s repute holding the exhibit. Baryshnikov’s mastery and connection with the subjects make him a compelling photographer in the sense that he’s a true insider. The photos are expected to reveal intimate and unique portraits showing a backstage pass into various dance performances.
The art-instrument in this exhibition—photography—is not at all a new practice for Baryshnikov. When it comes to taking pictures, this world famous ballet dancer is far from being a novice.
Nader quickly adds that the exhibition is not a celebrity-run show but a true presentation of a photographic talent.
Baryshnikov has been involved with projects in digital photography concerning dance, performance, and movement, specifically how the medium captures these elements. Many of the photographs are a blur of figures—performers in their element. What interests Baryshnikov is how one frame can capture movements in motion instead of freezing them into still images. This sets him apart from many of photography exhibitions on dance.
Whether on books, newspapers, or the Web, pictures representing dancers and dance often show clear, easily discernable images. “Dance this Way” departs from this mode and tries to present dancers as they move.
The photographs in the exhibit aim to replicate the same effect dancers illicit from the audience during a performance. It is from this lens that the great Baryshnikov has chosen to look through.
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