I’m not sure what I was expecting from A Flash of Light: The Dance Photography of Chris Nash – just pointe shoes and the perfect arabesque, perhaps. I couldn’t have been more wrong; these are extraordinary images that are all charged with energy, immediacy and a vibrant vitality.
Surprisingly, from a collection of colour-saturated images, I was left looking for postcards of some of the smaller B&W ones in the gift shop. The traditional costume of constraining bodice with billowing skirts in Orfeo, contrast with the spirit of contemporary defiance Nash captures in the dancer. The image lets her intention speak directly to the audience, capturing a split-second of expression the naked eye probably couldn’t register.
In Fishwreck, where the background dancer’s physicality resembles a prawn, the image has a playfulness and humour which again captured a moment of perspective that might go unnoticed within the whole dance.
The descriptions beneath the images explain Nash’s inspirations or initial ideas, which emphasize the sense of collaboration already so evident. His diverse influences, from Alfred Hitchcock to Egon Schiele, combine with Nash’s clear intension to take innovative contemporary photographs. The obvious collaboration between dancer, choreographer and photographer hint at the reason the images are so arresting: they are a testament to the limits of the human body as much as to the artistry of the photographer.
I was amazed by the dancers physical capabilities, and stood in front of Faking It, which depicts a body suspended in mid air, wondering if I had made a crucial career mistake in leaving ballet classes behind me at 7. I did not go so far as attempting to recreate the image there and then myself, as one of my fellow exhibition-goers did, but I’ll admit I was tempted to try.
Exhibition runs Sat 11 February – Sun 13 May
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