Dodge & Burn: Dances Made to Order

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Dodge & Burn is a series of photo essays documenting local culture with a focus on artful imagery, movement, and light.
If you already follow Atlanta’s booming dance community, you may have heard about Dances Made to Order, a monthly, nationwide film series that will be available exclusively online. I was curious and rang up Malina Rodriguez, who was tapped as the curator of the Atlanta edition. She directed me to the three chosen choreographers: Onur Topal-Sumer of Full Radius Dance, Corian Ellisor of Core Dance, and Lillian Ransijn of the Orion School. I soon found myself photographing a filming session with Onur at the B Complex, an artist cooperative in the West End neighborhood.

Onur dances with Full Radius, which is one of only a handful of physically integrated dance companies in the United States. Some of the dancers have wheel chairs, but this is the most overt of observations. As I watched them work and play in the yawning warehouse, circling and laughing comfortably, a sense of reverie settled into my muscles. To watch dance is to participate implicitly, to be inspired to move more consciously through our lives. I wanted to bring this thoughtfulness to my images.

I consider myself a form photographer, particularly when documenting site-specific performance. The shifting correlations between figures, objects, and space are my true subject. This sounds basic, but in an unlit space with fast action it can be a real challenge. You have to compose quickly, and take the entire scene into consideration before pressing the button.
I used my Canon 5D with a 28-90 mm lens. This lens allows me enough flexibility in range so that I don’t have to change lenses mid-stride or worry about distortions. Another key to capturing the situation is to avoid using a flash. I find that the existing light equalizes the relationship between people and place and allows access to the nuances of the scene.

After saying my earnest thanks, I smiled the whole way home knowing that I had witnessed, neh, participated in something extraordinary. Dance can be many things. For me on this day, it became a study in playfulness, empathy, and beauty. I hope my sense of relaxation and intimacy during the shoot comes through to you in these photographs.

Still from Lillian Rasijn's film. Courtesy Lillian Rasijn.

Both Corian Ellisor and Lillian Ransijn filmed at the Goat Farm, among other locations. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to shoot their sessions; however, I did get a short of the making of Corian’s film and a still from Lillian’s. I’m anticipating the release of all the films as another format for seeing what our local dancers and choreographers are up to.
The online premiere will be on May 2, 2012. Use the promotion code TRUCK at the Dances Made to Order site to get your month of Atlanta dance films for eight dollars. 65 percent of the proceeds will go directly to the participating artists.
Check BURNAWAY’s homepage for new photography every week, and watch our Flickr account for regular updates!

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