JCCC's New Dance Partners

September 16 and 17, 2022

Friday and Saturday at 8pm


Choreographer Bryan Arias delivers notes to Owen/Cox dancers during lighting tech in Yardley Hall at JCCC Tuesday Sept 13th.

Note: The use of "off site" for rehearsals means "not at JCCC's Midwest Trust Center." All rehearsals are on the site of each company's home location.

Störling Dance Theater
Wylliams-Henry Contemporary Dance Company
Owen/Cox Dance Group
Kansas City Ballet

Also links to other JCCC events pictured on this site

NDP September 2014
NDP September 2015
Jonah Bokaer April 2016
NDP At DanceUSA June 2017
NDP September 2017
NDP September 2018
NDP September 2019
COVID 2020- all online
NDP September 2021, stills only
NDP September 2022 (this)

 

A note about these pictures, and all my dance pictures

I was reminded this weekend (Saturday) of the separation between what almost all other photographers do, how they work and how they approach a job, versus how the tiny handful of dance photographers work. It so happened I had a number of paper prints in 11x17 (not my largest) with me which I showed to a small group of photographers. I don't think you can really see the images if you don't print them large, on paper.

Getting those responses from those professional photogs made me think I needed to say something here. Something I never normally do.

However my experience with other photographers is that most will turn at flank speed and run like crazy for the hills if you even mention dance lessons. No wonder they have a tough time knowing what to shoot for dance.

So, just a brief interruption, or - please jump ahead to the items below.

Mike

First, here is a link to my set of chapters on shooting dance (I call it "representing" dance).
It was orignally a longer video but seems easier to handle in smaller segments.
If you mean to shoot dance (not just posed dancers), this is meant to help you.
Representing Dance - Learning by Chapter

The group of (non-dance) photographers asked:
1 - "So what are the clues when to shoot?"
2 - "How many frames per second is your camera set to?" (meaning "continuous drive")
3 - "Obviously they set aside time for you (me) to shoot still pictures of the dancers." (first time I've heard this, but maybe not new)

1 - "Clues? Hints? List of?"
- Nope, Nope and Nope. While I don't consider my dancing, such as it is, stageable (any 3-year old could wipe the floor with me), nonetheless my real information is "embodied" in physical practice. I started shooting dance when I took up swing, ballroom etcetera in the 1990's. Later, I took tap and my photography made a quantum change. I suddenly heard and saw what before I had missed. This is covered a bit in "Representing Dance" I also took one or two classes of Flamenco (for the counter rythms in palmas) and adult beginning (very beginning) ballet which, tiny as it was, opened up my eyes to seeing the components of ballet to shoot rather than just "some motions."
And a list? Even if you make out a list you don't have the time to consult it. Short lists would be incomplete. Long lists are just too long.
You just have to learn the subject, and that takes time and repetition and work and years.

2 - "How many frames per second?"
NO, NEVER. I never use continuous drive ("motor drive" in film cameras).
BIG HINT: ONLY USE SINGLE-drive mode.
I can't think of a worse way to shoot dance (or anything). You loose all control over the exact moment of each shot. Instead, the camera's intervalometer (a clock which triggers an action - think of a windshield wiper motor) decides when each frame is taken. It is only listening to its own internal timing clock, not to music, or seeing the dancer. For years I've heard companies say the xyz photographer from the newspaper was just here and they took a lot of shots but nothing was taken right on the exact best moments - always a tad off. Frantically hitting the button will do the same.
If you don't know what to choose as you shoot, then you won't be much better trying to pick the occasional good shot from a ton of wasted frames.
When things do start moving hot and heavy, that is when you go steady, stay patient and let each movement work to its conclusion before hitting the button, even when you are hitting the button a lot. You need to listen to the music, watch the dancer and have a lot of patience.
In addition, shooting in single-frame mode gives you a chance to notice a mistake, such as shooting too soon and, for example, getting a slightly bent leg, then correcting it with another shot right after when the leg is fully straight.

3 - "They obviously set time aside on stage or in the studio to shoot these."
OH NO! They don't have time to do that with me. That is among the reasons I go to rehearsals before we get to the theater and then spend as much time shooting lighting and tech before we get to dress which is usually what I am counting on for my primary pictures. Each rehearsal not only helps me know what to shoot, each rehearsal adds a layer of information and a body sense of what each shot feels like so that I am ready to get certain shots I am looking for. But that assumption also tells me what these shooters thinks is dance photography.
Even Lois Greenfield, largely seen as a dance photographer, says she does not shoot dance. So, what does she shoot? She shoots dancers, with a camera fixed in place on a tripod pointing at a set studio location, with tons of electronic flash. The dancers, waiting at that location,
jump on a count of 3, doing something dancy.
This is more like Philippe Halsmans' jumping portraits from 1951 until his death in the 1980's. Everyone copied Philippe Halsman and today his "jump book" looks pretty tame. (Google image search)
The other reason is that settup up poses means a lack of variations and a lack of poses. In a performed piece, every beat has the possibility of yet another shot in position, after position, and with the dancers in full character. You just have more options shooting performances, even while you have less control over locations and lighting in particular.

4 - one more tip they didn't ask about. Use DSLR's and not mirrorless. Mirrorless are a godsend where they work well, like any other tool used to its strength, such as grip-and-grin pictures, gatherings, events, because you can adjust all the exposures as you view it. But the electronic viewfinder shows you what happened, not what is happening. For example, my partner, Nicole, was teaching a skirt dance when I got my Z6 mirrorless (for the Hays Symphony, hoping it was quieter). She gripped the hem of her dress and moved it in an arc in front of and above her. In the viewfinder I shot as she gripped the skirt hem below and left of her. However, instead of getting her just picking up the hem, I got the skirt as a large half circle in front of her, high above her upper right, hiding her. So the viewfinder display was 4-5 feet behind the actual action. (Symphony note: the viewfinder display was too slow for the conductor, too.) A DSLR, where you look through the lens directly, is right on. An awful lot can happen inside a second. The exact right moment is a tiny fraction of time within any second.

Cheers,
Mike Strong

And now, back to our page.

Companies in program order


Wylliams/Henry dancers in lighting tech, wednesday the 14th
Wylliams/Henry dancers in lighting tech, wednesday the 14th

Wylliams-Henry Contemporary Dance Company

"Calaboose"

Choreographer: Charissa Barton
Choreographic Assistant: Hayley Kostas

Mary Pat Henry: Artistic Director
DeeAnna Hiett: Co-artistic Director

Dancers:
Alexis Borth, Roma Catania, Caroline Dahm, Sarah McGuyer, Ashlan Zay

Music:
Dig the Say: III. To live tomorrow By PUBLICQuartet
Wild Women Don't Get the Blues By PUBLICQuartet and Ida Cox
Blackbird By PUBLICQuartet
Break Away: IV. Quick Pass By Jesse Montgomery, Julian Wachner
Romanian Fantasies By Fran & Flora
Excerpt from Jesus is Coming By Akropolis Reed Quartet, Jacob Ter Veldhuis
Ruma Panoramica for Cello, Bandoneon and Electronics By Anjelica Negron, Inbal Segev and Julien Labro

Program Note:
For a child, a simple box has infinite potential to express one's imagination.
As we age into adulthood, a box becomes something 'useful": packaging.
A construct. Putting others into a box so we can understand them.
Boxing oneself in to feel safe and protected.
How can we find that playfulness again?
How can we break out of the box of patterned thinking? — Charissa

 

Owen/Cox dancers, tech, wednesday the 14th
Owen/Cox dancers, tech, wednesday the 14th

Owen/Cox Dance Group

"Keep the Moon on Time"

Choreographer: Ryan Arias (with Alba Castillo)

Artistic Director: Co-Founder, Jennifer Owen
Co-Founder: Brad Cox
Costume Design: Jennifer Tierney

Music:
Natural Mystic (Live at the Rainbow Theatre, London/June 1 , 1977)  Written by: Bob Marley
Guiltiness (Live At The Rainbow Theatre, London/June 1, 1977)  Written by: Bob Marley
Ode — Our Own Roof  Written by: Nils Frahm

Dancers:
Taylor Collier, Emara Neymour Jackson, Shaina McGregor, Sam McReynolds,
Christopher Page-Sanders, Laura Jones Wallner, Christian A. Warner

 

Intermission

 

Störling dancers behind the main, tech on Thursday 16th, taking a group picture
Störling dancers behind the main, tech on Thursday 16th, taking a group picture

Störling Dance Theater

Pronounced "sterling" as in sterling silver (Swedish).

"I Have to See You"

Choreographer: Victoria Marks - in collaboration with the performers
Artistic Director: Mona Störling-Enna
Costume Design: Caitlin Pettijohn

Music:
I Have to See You By Eve Beglarian, Performed by Eve Beglarian and Lucas Papenfusscline
Symphony #3 — Gloria — Third Movement By Glenn Branca
In Lieu of Performed and Written by Wim Mertens

Program Note:
Alexis Massey and Robbie Button contributed essential
early contributions to the vocabulary of this dance.
The Störling dancers have been extraordinary collaborators,
and I offer my deepest gratitude for their profound imprint on this work.
Mona and Jeremiah, thank you for so generously inviting me into

Dancers:Tiffany Best, Brianna Collins, Molly Cook,
Laura Fiatte, Beret Holaday, Amy Hull, Katarina Larson,
Heidi Loubser, Ashley Moehlenhoff Breanne Risenhoover,
Jillian Sivewright, Alexandra Smith, Alexandra Wilson, Andrea Wolfe

 


L-R: Foreground: Alladson Barreto and Amanda DeVenuta
Background, partially obscured: Angelin Carrant, Georgia Fuller, and Cameron Thomas

Kansas City Ballet

"Life Within a Letter"

Choreographer: Stephanie Martinez

Artistic Director: Devon Carney
Costume Arrangement: KC Ballet Wardrobe Department
Rehearsal Assistant: Noelle Kayser (assistant to Stephanie Martinez)
Production Stage Manager: Victoria Frank
Assistant Stage Manager: Laura Krus

Music:
Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor, BWV 1067: Vll_ Badinerie Written by: Johann Sebastian Bach
"Mail" Sound Design: Noelle Kayser
Suite in B-Flat Major, HVW 434: IV Menuet Written by: George Frideric Handel
Will's Confession Written by: David Julyan
Etudes: Mazurka Written by: Knudåge Riiager
Concerto for Four Pianos in A Minor, BIM/ 1065: ll. Largo Written by: Johann Sebastian Bach
Happy Together Remastered Performed by: The Turtles

Dancers:
Amanda DeVenuta, Georgia Fuller, Taryn Mejia, Naomi Tanioka,
Isaac Allen, Alladson Barreto, Angelin Carrant, Cameron Thomas

Program Note:
My new work for Kansas City Ballet will explore the almost lost art
of writing and receiving letters. In a time of instant communication,
I think back to how written correspondence shaped our lives and relationships.
The anticipation of receipt and the intimacy of holding someone's words has a vastly different effect
on a person than the alert of a text or email. Moments of humor, heartbreak and the mundane -
my work will make you wonder "What was in that letter?" — Stephanie Martinez
Lighting Design: Burke Brown
Artistic Advisor: Michael Uthoff

All works were commissioned by the Midwest Trust Center (formerly Carlsen Center) of Johnson County Community College
Newly hired Executive Director Stacie McDaniel welcomed the audience and introduced, at Friday's performance, the special
presentation and appreciation for newly retired Executive Director Emily Behrmann

 

"Getting There"

Behind The Scenes Video

Behind the scenes "Getting to" video at:  https://vimeo.com/754045332

30 minute video above on my Vimeo site

 

Pictures From Each Company
- In Program Order, below -

 


 

Störling Dance Company

"I Have to See You"

Choreographer: Victoria Marks
Mona Störling Enna, Artistic Director and Choreographer

Dancers:
Tiffany Best, Brianna Collins, Molly Cook, Laura Fiatte, Beret Holaday,
Amy Hull, Katarina Larson, Heidi Loubser, Ashley Moehlenhoff Breanne Risenhoover,
Jillian Sivewright, Alexandra Smith, Alexandra Wilson, Andrea Wolfe


Off-site rehearsal at Culture House in Olathe, Kansas.


Victoria Marks, choreographer, with her dancers, onstage for tech, wednesday the 14th


Checking in


opening solo

 

 

 

 


 


 

Wylliams - Henry Contemporary Dance Company

"Calaboose"

Choreographer: Charissa Barton
Mary Pat Henry, artistic director
DeeAnna Hiett, co-artistic director

 

Dancers:
Alexis Borth, Roma Catania, Caroline Dahm, Sarah McGuyer, Ashlan Zay


Off-site rehearsal at UMKC Dance Division (here studio 128)


Charissa Barton, choreographer with Wylliams/Henry in Saturday night pre-performance talk. Victoria Marks, Störling choreographer to her left.

L-R: Roma Catania and Alexis Borth in Calaboose
L-R: Roma Catania and Alexis Borth in "Calaboose"

Alexis Borth (front), Sarah McGuyer, Roma Catania
Alexis Borth (front), Sarah McGuyer, Roma Catania

Ashlan Zay, Alexis Borth, Roma Catania, Carolyn Dahm, Sarah McGuyer
Ashlan Zay, Alexis Borth, Roma Catania, Carolyn Dahm, Sarah McGuyer

Sarah McGuyer (front), Roma Catania, Carolyn Dahm
Sarah McGuyer (front), Roma Catania, Carolyn Dahm


Sarah McGuyer

Bow practice at dress. L-R: Carolyn Dahm, Ashlan Zay, choreograher Charissa Barton, Roma Catania, Alexis Borth, Sarah McGuyer
Bow practice at dress. L-R: Carolyn Dahm, Ashlan Zay, choreograher Charissa Barton, Roma Catania, Alexis Borth, Sarah McGuyer

Notes and ... after - Mary Pat Henry at right, front.
Notes and ... after - Mary Pat Henry at right, front.


 

Owen/Cox Dance Group

"Keep the Moon on Time"

Choreographer: Bryan Arias
Rehearsal Director: Alba Castillo
Jennifer Owen, artistic director

 

Choreographer: Bryan Arias
Rehearsal director:Alba Castillo
Dancers:
Taylor Collier, Emara Neymour Jackson, Shaina McGregor, Sam McReynolds,
Christopher Page-Sanders, Laura Jones Wallner, Christian A. Wamer



Off-site rehearsal at Kansas City Young Artists 37th and Main.

Choreographer Bryan Arias working out a move with his co-director and rehearsal director Alba Castillo - off-site rehearsal at Kansas City Young Artists.
Choreographer Bryan Arias working out a move with his cofounder of Snorkel Rabbit (dance company) and rehearsal director Alba Castillo (husband and wife).
Owen/Cox off-site rehearsal at Kansas City Young Artists.

Notes after tech wednesday the 14th with dancers, Artistic director Jennifer Owen and New Dance Partners Artistic Advisor Michael Uthoff
Notes after tech wednesday the 14th with dancers, Artistic director Jennifer Owen and New Dance Partners Artistic Advisor Michael Uthoff

 


 

Kansas City Ballet

"Life Within a Letter"

Choreographer: Stephanie Martinez
Her assistant: Noelle Kayser
Devon Carney, artistic director

Choreographer: Irene Rodriquez

Dancers:
Amanda DeVenuta, Georgia Fuller, Taryn Mejia, Naomi Tanioka,
Isaac Allen, Alladson Barreto, Angelin Carrant, Cameron Thomas


Off-site rehearsal at Bolender Center (above) and the same moment (below) in dress.



Cameron Thomas with a "letter"

Amanda DeVenuta and Alladson Barreto
Amanda DeVenuta and Alladson Barreto


Tech 15 Sept. L-R: KC Ballet's rehearsal director Kristi Capps (holding notepad) directing Cameron Thomas (holding prop mail)

Break during early rehearsal at Bolender Center, going from prop letters to electronic texts and email. Front is Taryn Mejia, behind Whitney Huell and Naomi Tanioka. The rehearsals had as many as 14 dancers (backups, just in case) with eight dancers performing.
Break during early rehearsal at Bolender Center, going from prop letters to electronic texts and email.
Front is Taryn Mejia, behind Whitney Huell and Naomi Tanioka.
The rehearsals had as many as 14 dancers (backups, just in case) with eight dancers performing.

Taryn Mejia drops into a catch by Alladson Barreto after she stood on his shoulders entering from stage left, then jumping
Taryn Mejia drops into a catch by Alladson Barreto after Taryn
stood on his shoulders entering from stage left, then jumping

Angelin Carrant
Angelin Carrant

Amanda DeVenuta (left) and Taryn Mejia
Amanda DeVenuta (left) and Taryn Mejia

Isaac Allen lifts Naomi Tanioka waving a red prop envelope - the mail.
Isaac Allen lifts Naomi Tanioka waving a red prop envelope - the mail.

 

 

Various Other Pictures From In and Around the Show

Company class with stage crew on meal break.
Company class with stage crew on meal break.

NDP Artistic Advisor Michael Uthoff leading company class before dress, noon Friday the 16th
NDP Artistic Advisor Michael Uthoff leading company class before dress, noon Friday the 16th

Michael Uthoff (artistic advisor), Emily Behrmann (newly retired general manager of Midwest Trust Center JCCC), 
Mona Störling-Enna (Störling Dance Theatre) and Victoria Frank (choreographer), with discussion and notes 
after a rehearsal run of Störling Dance Theater in Olathe.
Michael Uthoff (artistic advisor), Emily Behrmann (newly retired general manager of Midwest Trust Center JCCC),
Mona Störling-Enna (Störling Dance Theatre) and Victoria Frank (choreographer), with discussion and notes
after a rehearsal run of Störling Dance Theater in Olathe.

Kansas City Ballet "Dance Speaks" series at Bolender Center, the first live "Dance Speaks" since before COVID. 
In the middle is choreograper Stephanie Martinez, to her right is her assistant Noelle Kayser
and to her left is KC Ballet's artistice director Devon Carney who is conducting the interview for a live audience.
(note: left to right: Noelle, Stephanie, Devon)
Kansas City Ballet "Dance Speaks" series at Bolender Center, the first live "Dance Speaks" since before COVID.
In the middle is choreograper Stephanie Martinez, to her right is her assistant Noelle Kayser
and to her left is KC Ballet's artistic director Devon Carney who is conducting the interview for a live audience.
(note: left to right: Noelle, Stephanie, Devon)

Bolender Center, home of the Kansas City Ballet
Bolender Center, home of the Kansas City Ballet

One Parting Item - Bookbytes from HPPR

How the Post Office Created America
       

"How the Post Office Created America"
by Winifred Gallagher

NOTE - It so happened that I was reviewing a book on the history of the US Post Office at the same time as I headed into KC Ballet to shoot pictures for the piece on mail.

The book is "How the Post Office Created America" by Winifred Gallagher. The book reviews I write, and record for the air, go to HPPR (High Plains Public Radio) in Garden City, Kansas (Southwest corner of Kansas, west of Dodge).

The URL at HPPR for Fall 2022 Bookbytes:
https://www.hppr.org/podcast/hppr-radio-readers-book-club#fall-2022

This is the 6th of 8 pieces I did on this book. So it may be a couple of weeks from today (Monday 3 October 2022) before this particular piece is on the HPPR site. Each 4-minute piece goes on the website when it is broadcast on the air.

6 – The Tactile Feel of "The Mail"

This is Mike Strong, in Hays, for HPPR
The book is "How the Post Office Created America" by Winifred Gallagher

As I was working on reviewing Winifred Gallagher's book, I was also shooting photos and video for a dance concert. One of the pieces was nostalgic about physical, paper mail. Specifically, about getting paper rather than texts or email.

The new technology to create texts and email is an electronic extension of physical mail. Physical mail in the 1800's was social media for then, as well as commercial communication. Both paper and electronic delivery depend on the same type of underlying addressing structure. The address is a location. The deliverable item is a tactile connection.

The September concert I was shooting, New Dance Partners, is a program from Johnson County Community College which brings four choreographers together with four dance companies to create, from scratch, in a month or so, new choreographies which are then performed in concert.

There are four companies, Störling Dance Theater, Wylliams/Henry Contemporary, Owen/Cox Dance Group and Kansas City Ballet.

This year I also spent more time shooting off-site rehearsals, catching the beginnings for each work for a behind the scenes documentation. The work at Kansas City Ballet (KCB) didn't yet have a name and the rehearsal props were not obvious mail pieces.

By the second rehearsal with KCB, for what would be named "Life Within a Letter," I knew that choreographer Stephanie Martinez, from Chicago, was celebrating "the mail" as a physical object you could touch.

"Life Within a Letter" is a whimsical piece with dancers turning, leaping, throwing and catching other dancers in simulated ecstasies of delight and wonder as they hold high, large red envelopes. As a dance photographer this was fun.

As a dancer, this is hard work. KCB had more dancers rehearsing than the eight performing. That allows the company to change casting as needed, such as for another show, and for injuries. There were some cast changes.

Stephanie Martinez' note for the performance program reads:
"My new work for Kansas City Ballet will explore the almost lost art of writing and receiving letters. In a time of instant communication, I think back to how written correspondence shaped our lives and relationships. The anticipation of receipt and the intimacy of holding someone's words has a vastly different effect on a person than the alert of a text or email. Moments of humor, heartbreak and the mundane - my work will make you wonder "What was in that letter?" "
Stephanie Martinez

Stephanie had large red prop envelopes for the dancers to hold out as they moved. The sense of touch, of holding the paper someone had sent, was in the movement. The pleasure of touch.

In breaks, the dancers would drop those big red prop envelopes. The dancers would pick up their phones. Faces intently peered at texts and messages and emails. Posts to like, messages to respond to and children to check on.

Sometimes, as I showed my pictures after a rehearsal, especially the high carry with a drop by Taryn into a basket catch, I would be asked to please "put that on Instagram" so everyone can see. No one asked me to send them a letter with those pictures.

Communication, as Alexis de Toqueville concluded in his book "Democracy in America" (1835) is the developer of civilization.

This is Mike Strong, in Hays, for HPPR Radio Readers Book Club


648 Words, 3824 characters between intro and outro – audio file length 3:58 as submitted