Posts Tagged ‘dance’

How I learned to love Bollywood

Friday, July 26th, 2013

 

There’s a really interesting piece in the Guardian today by Amit Chaudhuri (the British media’s new go-to man for South Asian comment) about Bollywood – the catch-all term for Indian mainstream film. Chaudhuri relates his own personal journey back to an Indian past whilst watching classic Hindi cinema at university in Cambridge in the ’80s. It was a medium that he’d ignored partly because of his middle-class upbringing and partly because he’d grown up on Hollywood movies. Interestingly, as he says, “just as Bollywood seemed to become all gloss and syrup, there was another development.” This came in the form of Independent Hindi cinema. Movies like Maqbool and Omkara. It’s a shame for the outsider who doesn’t speak Hindi because it’s really tricky to find subtitled versions beyond the big blockbusters. I’m still trying to hunt down a version of the Gangs of Wasseypur that I can understand. For me, I remember sitting open mouthed the first time I saw some of the beautiful Satyajit Ray offerings in black and white that are pretty easy to find… but then also loving more modern ironic offerings like Quick Gun Murugan. In any case it will be interesting to see where ‘new’ Indian cinema will go in the next few years in a rapidly changing India.

I’ve never worked on a Bollywood movie (although I did shoot movie moghul Ronnie Screwvalla for the Sunday Times Magazine a few years ago – see here) but did photograph the rehearsals for The Merchants of Bollywood (again for the Sunday Times Magazine) in Mumbai a while back. As my own homage to Bollywood, here’s one of my favourite frames from the job…

 

Indian - Mumbai - Dancer Ashwini Iyer, 23, practices her routine at a rehearsal of the production of The Merchants of Bollywood in a studio in Mumbai, India

Indian – Mumbai – Dancer Ashwini Iyer, 23, practices her routine at a rehearsal of the production of The Merchants of Bollywood in a studio in Mumbai, India

 

Music on a rainy afternoon

Friday, July 19th, 2013

 

Here’s another image from a recent Conde Nast Traveller story in Sao Tome and Principe. It shows singer Guilherme de Caravlho playing at home in Sao Tome. Outside the heavens had just opened and a rain storm was passing overhead. Behind the curtain his daughter danced to the music.

I’ve written before about music from former Portuguese colonies: the melancholy, the saudade. Here was a perfect moment to illustrate it. I hope that I did his song justice…

 

 

Sao Tome and Principe - Sao Tome - Singer Guilherme de Caravalho plays guitar at home

Sao Tome and Principe – Sao Tome – Singer Guilherme de Caravalho plays guitar at home

You dancin’?

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

 

Here’s the first in an occasional series of unpublished images from a recent Conde Nast Traveller piece on Sao Tome and Principe.

I’d just finished a portrait down the road when I heard some music and drifted into a bar (as you do). I found a sound system and a few people swaying to the music between the tables. This elegant woman was dancing the afternoon away.

A thousand stories.

 

 

Sao Tome and Principe - Airport - Paula, a local woman dances at the White House bar near the airport, Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe – Airport – Paula, a local woman dances at the White House bar

Oscar Niemeyer as a backdrop…

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

 

Very sad to hear of the passing of the extraordinary Modernist Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer this morning.

A few years ago, while on assignment for a magazine in Rio, I was told by my fixer about some young capoeristas that practised outside a wonderful modernist landscape in Niteroi. We took a ferry across the bay and sure enough found some young men sparring in front of these great blocks of colour and shape. I chose two lads to work with but could only spend an hour or so there as we had to be back on Copacabana beach to shoot some models at dusk. I am ashamed to say that I never really had a chance to look around properly but the buildings as a backdrop were breathtaking: swooping colour and line that were perfect for the fluid movements of the capoeristas.

Here are three of the images.

 

Brazil – Niteroi – Two young Capoeiristas practicing Capoeira outside a Modernist theatre designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Capoeira is a mixture of martial arts and dance that originated in Brazil created and developed by African slaves during the 16th century. Participants form a roda (circle) and take turns playing instruments, singing, and sparring in pairs. Enormously acrobatic, Capoeira was for most of it’s existence, banned by the Brazilian authorities. It is now seen as a national sport.

 

Brazil – Niteroi – Two young Capoeiristas practicing Capoeira outside a Modernist theatre designed by Oscar Niemeyer.

 

Brazil – Niteroi – Two young Capoeiristas practicing Capoeira outside a Modernist theatre designed by Oscar Niemeyer.

Verve Photo

Friday, September 9th, 2011

I’m delighted to be the subject of a post at the rather excellent Verve Photo that features my work on capoeira in Brazil.

I must admit I was a little surprised to be included in such a blog that prides itself on showcasing ‘the new breed of documentary photographers’ as I seem (or feel) like I have already been around the block more than once, but no matter. Geoffrey Hiller was utterly charming and I was very pleased that he chose an image from a series that showcases work that isn’t necessarily dark and serious.

Many thanks to Geoffrey and I reproduce the short interview below.

 


“The story was on Capoeira, the martial art/dance once the (banned) preserve of African slaves, now a national symbol of Brazil. It was shot on assignment for a car magazine – Lexus – with whom I’ve photographed and written travel pieces on and off for nearly a decade. My fixer had arranged for five models – all expert Capoeiristas, and the idea was that in addition to photographing some Capoeira classes in the city, we’d make the main images on Copacabana and Leblon beaches. I remember it rained for a couple of days so I had to shoot the beach twice before I was happy. Initially I shot with two portable strobes but that felt too ‘fashioney’ so I went back to a much simpler set-up – shooting at dusk with available light and couple of fixed lenses: a much more traditional reportage feel. I’d worked in Brazil only once before in 1999 as part of a five country reportage about the Politics of Hunger. I’d shot a piece with the Landless Peasant’s Union (the MST) on squatted land in the far north: the Capoeira story was far removed from that and some of the images have formed the basis of a lifestyle folio that sees me work on ‘lighter’ stories away from pieces in Africa and Asia that I am perhaps more known for. A good balance, I think.”

 

British Summer Time… Standon Festival and the naked hoola hoop

Monday, August 15th, 2011

A bit more British Summertime… at the rather excellent Standon Festival in Hertfordshire. Possibly the only place to see naked hoola- hooping this year…

 

UK - Standon - A man dances at a portable sound system during the Standon Festival

 

UK - Standon - A couple dressed in gold lame costumes relax at the Standon Festival

 

UK - Standon - A man in gold body paint relaxes and drinks a pint of beer at the Standon Festival

 

UK - Standon - A man collapses clutching his groin after failing to hoola-hoop naked

Michael Clark – a blast from the past…

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

So, last Friday I went to see Michael Clark’s new work, ‘Come, been and gone‘ at the Barbican – his tribute the the 1970’s music of Lou Reed and David Bowie. Shockingly good if only for seeing Kate Coyne stuck all over with syringes… (you had to be there). Anyway, I remembered that I’d recently scanned an old set of trannys of Clarke in rehearsal for ‘Mmm’ years ago. All shot on 320 Tungsten film pushed one or two stops… you had to hold your breath and hope the shadows wouldn’t block completely. With the advent of digital, that seems such a long time ago…

Anyway, here’s some images from that set…

UK - London - Ballet dancer Michael Clark in rehersals for his ballet "Mmm"

UK - London - Ballet dancer Michael Clark in rehersals for his ballet "Mmm"

Ballet dancer Michael Clark in rehersals for his ballet "Mmm"

UK - London - Ballet dancer Michael Clark in rehersals for his ballet "Mmm"

UK - London - Ballet dancer Michael Clark in rehersals for his ballet "Mmm"

UK - London - Ballet dancer Michael Clark in rehersals for his ballet "Mmm"

Kathakali – Into the Dreams of Heroes

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

To my surprise and delight, Tewfic El-Sawy who runs the popular Travel Photographer blog has again chosen to highlight some of my work in India, this time on Kathakali.

The link to the page is here.

I remember I spent a very pleasant few days at the Kerala Kalamandalam – the state academy of Keralan dance in the sleepy town of Cheruthuruthy.

You can read about the story here on my website.

The students at the academy rise at dawn and undergo hours of daily exercise and academic studies for years to learn by heart the dances and the intricate movements of Kathakali. I thought Kathakali reminded me very much of classical Japanese Noh – a mute mixture of precise dance and theatre where slight eye and hand movements indicate an entire language.

The first picture has always reminded me of a pond of small frogs…

Young students at the Kalamandalam practice eye exercise at dawn. Kathakali uses very intricate eye and hand movements to communicate with the audience

Young students at the Kalamandalam practice eye exercise at dawn in a classroom lit by ghee (butter) lamps. Kathakali uses very intricate eye and hand movements to communicate with the audience

A boy is massaged by his teacher at the Kalamandalam. Massage is seen as an essential part of Katahakali practice making the body supple.

A boy is massaged by his teacher at the Kalamandalam. Massage is seen as an essential part of Kathahakali practice making the body supple.

Professor Balasubramanian pauses before he finishes his make-up in preparation for a production of the Ramayana

Professor Balasubramanian pauses before he finishes his make-up in preparation for a production of the Ramayana

In the late afternoon sun, a senior student relaxes after class by the Koothambalam (temple theatre)

In the late afternoon sun, a senior student relaxes after class by the Koothambalam (temple theatre)

Here’s a link to my work on Shadipur Depot, a slum colony of artists and performers in New Delhi that was a previous post on the Travel Photographer.

Here’s the full story from my website with text.

All images are available through my archive site.