Havana Dancer: Pictures and Times of Enjoy

The gentle in the gutted motion picture theater is muted and I instantly start to take into account which digicam to use, what ISO I can get absent with, what is my speediest lens. The dancers we have arrive to photograph are shifting into costume somewhere in the back again of the constructing that serves as their rehearsal corridor.

The drummers who will accompany the dance chat and participate in an occasional riff on their congas or batá drums, smiling at the rhythms. Raices Profundas (Deep Roots) is a Havana dance company dedicated to preserving the African origins of Cuban dance and music, in particular the Yoruba custom of Nigeria. I have no concept what to hope from the effectiveness.

I arrived in Havana from the US the working day ahead of to be part of a team of photographers who would devote the 7 days photographing Cuban dance companies. I really don’t especially like the workshop ecosystem, commonly preferring to do the job on your own. But traveling with an organized group was the only way to check out Cuba in 2020, and it also promised to deliver obtain to numerous dance providers in the city. I am totally new to Cuba, really don’t communicate a word of Spanish, and have only my enthusiasm for dance images to carry me together.

The drums start sophisticated rhythms that maintain the spirit of the Caribbean along with some thing further, farther away, the African affect. Male members of the company, brightly costumed and fierce with swords and sticks in their fingers, pantomime fight. The women of all ages dance in lengthy skirts and deep, lively colours encompassing unbridled female power. I decrease the ISO and alter my shutter velocity to a fifteenth of a 2nd. The resulting photographs are movement blurred and impressionistic. The person dancers recede into shade and gesture and spirit — capturing these gifted performers improved, I consider, than would a basic portrait.

And then the yellow gown. Worn by a lovely, black, Cuban dancer, the yellow substance gathers a rich mild towards the blue/grey partitions of the old theater. She spins, gathers her full skirt, and releases it as she spins yet again. The fabric forms arcs and eddies and her dark facial area floats higher than the swath of color. I launch the shutter once more and once more. The female in yellow smiles with a palpable pleasure in her movement and the rhythm of the drums. And just at the time, as I glance in excess of the camera and catch her eye, she smiles at me.

Back again at the hotel, I down load the images. I glimpse again and once more at the pictures of the dancer in the yellow costume. I notice that I don’t even know the identify of this girl with whom I designed these kinds of a stunning graphic. Separated by distance and language, we arrived alongside one another for only a couple of times. A moment was enough.

What is the partnership we have with the folks we photograph? We almost never give language to these encounters, sticking as a substitute to f-stops, film kinds, bokeh. But what happens between us and those we photograph warrants thought. Some these relationships are very long-lived, intimate, imbued with trust and simplicity that can conveniently flip darkish — the classic muse. Other individuals are momentary and nameless, even secretive — an image taken speedily on the road. But the woman in the yellow costume and I shared one thing various. We arrived collectively intentionally to make art she as a performer and I as both equally creator and viewers. In carrying out so, we uncovered a second of connection, of recognition.

Anyone asked me the other day what makes a fantastic photograph. There are so a lot of techniques to reply — composition, strategy, execution. But at its core, I believe a great photograph is constructed on a sort of appreciate. When we make a attractive photograph, probably we drop in really like for a moment with those people we photograph. I know I fell in enjoy for a instant in that aged theater in Havana on a January afternoon. And perhaps excellent photographs are created when that moment of appreciate is shared.


About the creator: E. E. McCollum is a photographer and writer living in the American Southwest. The opinions expressed in this article are entirely those of the creator. McCollum is also the Editor-at-massive of Shadow and Light-weight Journal. You can uncover extra of McCollum’s get the job done on his web page. This short article was also published right here.


Picture credits: Header photograph is “Havana Dancer ©2020” by E. E. McCollum