Celebrating Dance - a special place
Later this month I travel to Torquay for a weekend filled with sparkles, smiles and wonderful dancing. This is my 8th year of attending this event with my camera and holds a very special place in my heart. I first attended the event as a delegate, travelling with friends from Reading to dance, learn and spend time with friends. Then one year my life changed! Despite a life long passion with photography, a gift of DSLR inpired me to learn more about photography, I therefore enrolled on a City and Guilds course at night school. During the course, we were set assignments and projects to work on, at the time my children were young and needed my time a lot more, so for projects I decided to incorporate my life into these projects, one project featured children portraits, another a day in the life of a dancer and one featured Celebrating Dance. Prior to the event I researched dance photography, working in low light, capturing movement, new equipment was purchased, a huge amount of memory cards formatted and along with my dance clothes I travelled to Torquay.
The weekend is organised by Afra Al Kahira and her husband John, dancers travel from all the country to attend, teachers are invited from Europe, the USA and further afield to teacher a wonderful varied programme of workshops. Friday evening is a wonderful opportunity for delegates to showcase their skills in the performance platform, in the past this event wasn't photographed and I used the opportunity to capture the wonderful dancing, the stunning costumes and the smiles as each act performed to one of the most friendly audiences I have encountered. Saturday evening is the highlight of the weekend with the gala show featuring the teachers performances, again I positioned myself on the floor right at the very front and captured the swirling skirts, beautiful veils, every move of the dancers. As I uploaded the images onto my computer I surprised myself with the results, I loved the effects created whilst photographing movement and using slow shutter speeds. Of course I shared my results with the dancers who performed on both evenings and received some wonderful feedback and invitations to photograph other dance events, a fantastic opportunity to incorporate two of my passions - dance and photography.
The following year I was invited by Afra to photograph the event officially and the rest they say is history. Celebrating Dance was my first step into the world of professional photography.
As the years have passed, I captured the dancing from both evenings, introduced a portrait booth on both evenings for dancers to pose for portraits in their stunning costumes, to create memories of friendships, produced a charity calendar featuring the dancers from Saturday evening, taught workshops on posing and how photography can help performance. My knowledge and skills have increased so much, not just in photographing the dancing but in editing the final images to ensure colour casts are removed etc. It is a wonderful event and one I look forward to attending each year. It is so exciting to see how dancers have developed and grown each year, to spend time with old friends and make now ones, be wowed by costumes.