Happy Birthday to Arthur Fink!

photo by Arthur Fink
Karen first met Arthur Fink at Cultivate a few years back and he has asked many important questions around Monkeyhouse since then.  When we began looking at ways to talk about documenting dance Arthur was one of the first people who came to mind.  It just so happens that March is Arthur's birthday, so what better way to celebrate than a little interview with Nikki Sao Pedro-Welch!?

NSPW:  I see that you are a photographer specifically for dance. What do you find most interesting about dance photography?
AF:  I'd change the word "interesting", which refers to the head, and replace it with the heart-centered word "compelling".  I'm thrilled to see up close how dance is created, how dancers develop and nurture themselves and their skills, how emotion and story content find expression in movement and body form.  And I love being able to record some of this and share it with a broader community.  The pictures I take are often of a part of the dance world that the average public never gets to see.  Of course, it's a world that dancers know so well!

NSPW:  In speaking of dance photography, what is your most favorite image you have captured?
AF:  That's a little like asking a mother which of her children is her favorite.  There are many images that I hold in special ways -- some because they work well as images, others because I've been able to record some aspect of the dance making process, and others because of the thrilling environment in which they were taken.

But I'll venture out and name one image that was, for me, a most exciting achievement.  I'd spent dozens of hours photographing all the rehearsals of Portland Ballet's recent production of Giselle.  The company members knew me well, and I believe that I became almost invisible to them.  (I view that as an achievement.)  After their first dress rehearsal in the theatre space, the whole company gathered to hear a final critique from the director.   Most of the women had unbuttoned their dresses in the rear, and removed their toe shoes, as they sat down to listen.  Although they were exhausted, they listened with total attention to their director's list of concerns and suggestions.  I do believe that my image of that moment came closest to my goal of photographing the genesis of dance.  I've proudly made it the signature image on my Facebook wall, and I look at it as an indication of a plateau that I've reached.  But a plateau is not a peak, and I'm still seeking to tell that story even more fully

photo by Arthur Fink
NSPW:  When doing a photo shoot, what is your main goal as the photographer?
AF:  When shooting for myself, I want to photograph from the heart -- photographing not just the dance that I saw, but really the dance that I felt.  I want my image to be simple, clear, expressive, personal, and powerful.  

When shooting for a company, a dancer, or a choreographer I still want all those things, but I also want to sympathetically portray the creative intent revealed in that dance.  I'd like my photo to be our photo, as I want to collaborate in finding or creating images that speak for the dance creators as well as for me.

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