Inside the Dancer's Art

Inside the Dancer's Art

by Rose Eichenbaum

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Overview

In this gorgeous book, the acclaimed photographer Rose Eichenbaum captures the spirit, beauty, and commitment of dancers along with the dancers' own words of wisdom and guidance. More than 250 color and black and white photographs are paired with inspirational quotes from legendary and emerging dancers, including Bill T. Jones, Katherine Dunham, Ann Reinking, Mark Morris, Pina Bausch, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Gregory Hines, Mitzi Gaynor, Desmond Richardson, Rennie Harris, Paul Taylor, Ohad Naharin, Tiler Peck, and many more. Here, words and images explore creativity, art making, the communicative power of the human body, the challenges of balancing everyday life with the physical and practical demands of the dancer's art, and more. In these intimate portraits, Eichenbaum reveals and celebrates the world of the dancer. Sensual and mesmerizing, these images will entrance dancer and non-dancer alike—as well as anyone who loves fine photography—with their powerful depiction of the human body.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780819577009
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publication date: 07/14/2017
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

ROSE EICHENBAUM is an award-winning photographer, author of six books and a respected educator. Her photography has graced more than thirty national magazine covers, and has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, including a three-year national tour hosted by the Smithsonian Institution. Eichenbaum directs the Art of Photographing Dance Workshop at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and serves as documentary photographer for USC's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.

Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The legendary choreographer Martha Graham described those who possess an irrepressible inner force to move, stretch, run, and jump as being "doomed to dance." I have met many dancers who fit that description.

After a thirty-year performance career, Nancy Colahan told me, "I am, and always will be a dancer. Every cell in my body is primed to be so." Michele Simmons, an Alvin Ailey dancer who was later sidelined by multiple sclerosis and confined to a wheelchair, insisted to the end of her life, "My identity as a dancer will never, ever, ever, ever be taken from me. It's who I am."

In the words of Desmond Richardson, one of the greatest dancers of his generation, "I define dance as life — using your life experience to express yourself through your art." Top-rated national competitive break-dancer, Trinity (Nicole Whitaker) put it simply, "Dance means everything. I'd die without it."

Performance is how these individuals express who they are at the core. Tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith told me, "I am my most honest when I'm dancing. No one can own my thoughts, or my actions, or tell me how to feel."

Spanish dancer Carmela Greco, daughter of the late flamenco star, José Greco, described dance as therapeutic: "Before every performance I feel a huge emotional weight — the weight of my life. But once I begin to move, the weight lightens and lifts away."

The dancer's art requires dedication, discipline, and sacrifice. Russian-trained ballerina Natalia Makarova explained how she had to tame her body in her quest to reach the top. "One must work the body like a racehorse. Rein her in and bring her under control. When she rebels, you must conquer her, become her master to bring body and mind into harmony."

I asked former Broadway dancer and ballet choreographer Eliot Feld, "What is the payoff for all the sacrifices you've made for your art?" He replied, "I've learned that it's unreasonable to expect rewards simply because you have given everything to make your dances. It's a one-way street. The dances that you make owe you nothing. You owe them everything!"

Film star Shirley MacLaine, who performed on Broadway in Bob Fosse's The Pajama Game, described dancers as "artistic soldiers" who "will do anything they're asked." The dancer's job is to entertain, engage, and uplift an audience — and with that comes the responsibility to deliver one's best performance.

Carmen de Lavallade, who for decades has mesmerized audiences with her beauty and talent, confessed, "You spend your entire life trying to elevate an audience to another level. You also spend your entire life afraid you might not." As Tony Award winner Chita Rivera put it, "All I've ever wanted was to touch that one person out there in the dark."

And yet, for all the training, long hours and, in most cases, low pay, dancers rarely know how much their performances truly affect an audience. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater star Matthew Rushing explained, "Even though you receive applause, you usually don't know how your dancing affects people. But when someone comes up to you after a performance with tears in their eyes and says, 'You touched my spirit, you touched my soul,' that's when you know you've made a difference."

New York City Ballet's principal dancer Tiler Peck pondered, "What do I look like when I'm dancing? I really don't know. I know what I feel like when my arms are doing this or when I'm in the air. But if I were someone sitting in the audience looking at me — what would they be seeing? Would they be able to read my thoughts and feel my emotions?"

Yuriko, the legendary Martha Graham dancer, asserted that the dancer's art should be used as a tool for political awareness and as a force for social good. "Look at what's happening in our world, in our century. Use your imagination and the human body to demonstrate life and the human condition." Tap dancer Mark Mendonca agreed: "Dance is how I connect with the power we all have to change the world."

Dance also operates on a spiritual realm, connecting us to a higher power. Choreographer Cleo Parker Robinson described dance as "a spiritual language we can use to feed our souls, communicate with each other, and show respect for all peoples." For choreographer Judith Jamison, "The dancer is someone who makes you feel part of the universe." Former Bella Lewitzky dancer, John Pennington, views dance as a way for artists to express what they know about their own spirituality.

As personally fulfilling as dancers' lives can be, the duration of their stage careers are relatively short when compared to those of artists in other fields. Choreographer David Parsons spoke from personal experience when he lamented, "There comes a time when the body betrays you."

So what does the dancer do when her body betrays her? Retired ballerina Martine van Hamel responded. "She must simply learn to live with her own demise. I don't feel anymore like I'm a dancer, and yet, I'm nothing but." When I asked the same question of veteran Martha Graham dancer Mary Hinkson, she said, "If you can't do it, don't do it. Why get on the stage and just hobble around?"

Many told me about the challenges of finding a balance between their personal and professional lives. They shared deeply personal stories and, in some cases, their darkest and most frightening moments. They recalled with pride their signature roles, reminisced about the invaluable relationships they had developed with other dancers and choreographers. They spoke eloquently and lovingly of their appreciation for the dance — how it had given their lives meaning and enriched it beyond their wildest expectations. Others confessed hurt and betrayal by an art form that can be fiercely unforgiving.

Whether starting out, at the height of their career, or looking back, dancers know that they have the ability to inspire, stimulate the imagination, communicate ideas and emotions, and offer commentary about ourselves and our world. Many feel compelled not only to uplift audiences, but humanity as a whole.

I know all this because long before I picked up a camera and tape recorder, I was a dancer. I too had dreamed of a career on the stage, but ultimately found my true calling as a dance photographer, author, and teacher.

My earliest influence as a photographer was Barbara Morgan, whose extraordinary skill at capturing moving bodies in time and space, artfully lit and composed, had a profound effect on my visual aesthetic. She practiced "previsioning," an intuitive approach that prepared her to establish an empathetic relationship with her subjects as she searched for "meaning within form."

It is through this method that Morgan captured so poignantly the personas and artistic expressions of Martha Graham, Erick Hawkins, José Limón, Anna Sokolow, Merce Cunningham, Doris Humphrey, and others. Her desire to take pictures that contained "the essential emotion of the dance and arrest time to capture the dance at its visual peak" made her images of the late 1930s and 1940s among the first to reveal the dancer's spirit and artistry. When I studied her photos, I saw intimate portraits that conveyed what lies beneath technique, costumes, and character. She captured the dancers' relationship to their art and of the art itself. Could I do the same? I vowed to try. The year was 1985.

For more than three decades, I've photographed hundreds of dancers of every style — from ballet, tap, jazz, and break-dancing to ballroom, postmodern, world dance, butoh, and the avant-garde — in dance studios, photo rental houses, and site-specific locations, in rehearsals and in performances. Regardless of the assignment, whether marketing a dance company or performance, shooting a magazine cover, publishing a book, or pursuing a personal project, it's always been my intention, in the spirit of Barbara Morgan, to search for meaning within the form.

My thirty years as a photographer and chronicler of dance brought me in close contact with some of the most celebrated names in dance, as well as many talented emerging artists. Every such encounter contributed in some way to my understanding of the dancer's life and art. This work is a record of my journey into the world of dance, and is dedicated to the dancers who I have had the honor to photograph and interview during the course of my exploration of one of humanity's oldest and most impassioned forms of artistic expression.

Rose Eichenbaum

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Inside the Dancer's Art"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Rose Eichenbaum.
Excerpted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction
Joaquin Escamilla
Mark Mendonca
Gwen Verdon
Natalie Willes
Julie Brette Adams
Donald Byrd
David Parsons
Daniel Ezralow
Parissa
Rennie Harris
American Repertory Dance Company
Janet Eilber
Gregory Hines
State Street Ballet
Ronald K. Brown
Danza Floricanto/USA
José Greco
Carmela Greco
Matthew Rushing
Anna Halprin
Judith Jamison
Mark Morris
Katherine Dunham
Bill T. Jones
Ann Reinking
Tommy Tune
Shirley MacLaine
Chita Rivera
Paula Kelly
Liza Minnelli
Robert La Fosse
Leslie Caron
Fernando Bujones
Cleo Parker Robinson
Pilobolus
La La La Human Steps
Martha Graham Dance Company
Blakeley White-McGuire
Michele Simmons
Mitzi Gaynor
Paul Taylor
Mikhail Baryshnikov
Rachael McDonald
Yuriko
Cynthia Gregory
Ben Vereen
Francesca Harper
Mary Hinkson
Rasta Thomas
Marine Jahan
Natalia Makarova
Jean Butler
Ethan Stiefel
Dudley Williams
Susan Jaffe
Jazz Tap Ensemble
Jason Samuels Smith
Chloe Arnold
Josette Wiggan-Freund
Michelle Dorrance
Lori Belilove
Russ Tamblyn
Rita Moreno
Mia Michaels
Peter Boal
Carmen de Lavallade
Ivan Putrov
Desmond Richardson
Pina Bausch
Urban Bush Women
David Roussève
Don McLeod
Eiko and Koma
Donna Sternberg
Doug Varone
Deidre Dawkins
Princess Mhoon
Regina Klenjoski Dance Company
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal
Ohad Naharin
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Glen Tetley
Diavolo/Architecture in Motion
Debbie Allen
Vivian Nixon
Aurelia Thierrée
Jolie Moray
Kyle Abraham
Tamica Washington-Miller
Tyne Stecklein
Deborah Lohse
Wade Robson
Amanda Balen
Mark Kanemura
Dylan Gutierrez and Jeraldine Mendoza
Julio Bocca
Wendy Whelan
N'Tegrity and Trinity
Sonya Tayeh
Britain Grady
Lar Lubovitch
Marcelo Gomes
Gillian Murphy
Sunhwa Chung
Lakshmi Iyengar
Andrea Paris-Gutierrez
Ashley Everett
Cassandra Trenary
Xai Ying
Nia Davis, Quaba Ernest, and Siobhan Harvey
Robert Fairchild
Tiler Peck
Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev
Eliana Girard
Villn Lor
Ryanimay
Alyssa Allen, Jordan Johnson, Aidan Carberry, Stephanie Dai, Jessica Muszynski, Austyn Rich, Paulo Hernandez-Farella, and Lenai Wilkerson
Acknowledgments
About the Artists and Photos

What People are Saying About This

photographer RosalieO’Connor

“Spanning three decades, this volume displays a breath-taking range of imagery. From legends like José Greco to rising stars of today such as Cassandra Trenary, Rose has captured the essence of each dancer in portraits, rehearsals and performance!"

Lar Lubovitch

“Rose’s pictures of dancers reveal the most touching thing there is to know about them—their humanity.”

From the Publisher

"Rose's pictures of dancers reveal the most touching thing there is to know about them—their humanity." —Lar Lubovitch, from the foreword

"What a magnificent collection of dance photos! Not only do these photos move, making this a wonderful tribute to the dancers, but they also seem to dance from page to page. Such a moving experience to see so much of Ms. Eichenbaum's astonishing work in one book."—Dr. Daniel Lewis, author of The Illustrated Dance Techniques of José Limón

"Rose Eichenbaum is an inspiring photographer to work with. She is able to ascertain the essence of her model, relax them and at the same time excite them, Her photographs of dancers capture the balance and passion of the moving body whether posed in serene lyricism or freely engage in highly charged athleticism."—Donald McKayle, choregrapher

"Spanning three decades, this volume displays a breath-taking range of imagery. From legends like José Greco to rising stars of today such as Cassandra Trenary, Rose has captured the essence of each dancer in portraits, rehearsals and performance!"—RosalieO'Connor, photographer

Dr. Daniel Lewis

“What a magnificent collection of dance photos! Not only do these photos move, making this a wonderful tribute to the dancers, but they also seem to dance from page to page. Such a moving experience to see so much of Ms. Eichenbaum’s astonishing work in one book.”

Donald McKayle

“Rose Eichenbaum is an inspiring photographer to work with. She is able to ascertain the essence of her model, relax them and at the same time excite them, Her photographs of dancers capture the balance and passion of the moving body whether posed in serene lyricism or freely engage in highly charged athleticism.”

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