"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells the less you know" -Diane Arbus

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

When the words "dance photography" are said, the first name that should always come to mind is Lois Greenfield. Greenfield's goal in life was to be a photojournalist for National Geographic. After graduating from Brandeis University in 1970, she began working towards this goal by working freelance for Boston's counter-cultural newspapers. One assignment she received was to photograph a dance concert. She found this task quite difficult given the unpredictable movements of the dancers. After a while, Greenfield felt that she got the hang of it, and actually found herself very intrigued by the subject themselves. She had been captivated by the idea of only needing to worry about visual interest while photographing dancers, and not some sort of editorial relevancy.
Greenfield set the foundation for this circular understanding of dancer inspiring photographer, and photographer inspiring dancer. She asked her subjects to simply free style, no set choreography. She wanted them to dance from within, to experiment with their own bodies, to use what they've trained for and to push themselves. As they took this direction they found themselves in this unique wholesome state in which each move they made couldn't be repeated. It was pure expression through their bodies.

Being both a photographer and a dancer I feel this this combination of arts is beautiful match. Dancers use their bodies as an instrument of expression, just as a painter uses a paint brush. They train their bodies in a technical fashion only so that when perfection is nearly achieved, they can break the bounds of their classical training. They can experiment, and indulge in whatever their imagination inquiries.

Now this where photographers enter to make this magnificent duo complete. When dancers perform each movement they make is simply a movement is passing to create the larger idea of the entire routine. The naked cannot see each move, position, and frame the dancer makes, it is seemingly fluid movement. However, in order to make their movements so fluid and graceful there are basic move by move frames each dancer is hitting mentally, and that is what the photographer captures. This moment that would have passed by with grace if not captured on camera, where it will now radiate for eternity.

Greenfield captured these moments with a weightless, nearly angelic fashion. As the dancers pushed themselves, she captured them frame by frame is these seemingly impossible positions. Frozen in the air however, we can get a more extensive look into the beauty and strength of each dance. They almost become like these ideally sculpted statues in mid-air.

The white background in Greenfield's pictures gives the dancer a blank canvas to express themselves. She has no control over what the dancer does, and has no expectation for what they will do. She is simply inspired to capture this unique form of art, and sees each and every beautiful move. She takes the picture so that the four corners of the camera's frame are honing in on all the energy the dancer is exuding. The end result. Magic

If you'd like to check out any of Lois Greenfields pieces of work you can find them at