Stephen Wright – View from the wings and catching the perfection of dancing flow

Vanessa Kang in Christopher Bruce's <I>Rooster</I>.<br />© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Vanessa Kang in Christopher Bruce’s Rooster.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

www.rambert.org.uk
www.stephenwrightphotography.co.uk
These pictures are also in DanceTabs gallery area on Flickr

I have always had a passion for photography, but with the inevitability of a short career, my attention turned to photographing my partner whilst she performed. Initially it was just so we could ensure we had memorabilia at the end of it all, but over time my intentions changed, and rather than just ‘documenting’ our performance days, I wanted to recreate how we felt during performance.

Performance throws up a lot of different emotions, but most lead to a sense of abandonment, immersion and freedom. In positive psychology this state is know as ‘Flow’:

being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Witnessing this is what captivates audiences and interests me as both a dancer and photographer. My intention became trying to ensure my photography captured this incredibly photogenic state. Obviously I don’t just photograph my partner any more, as my pursuit has broadened my horizons.

This search has led to the creation of this album, capturing various moments both of rehearsals and performances during Rambert’s touring season. It aims to give the viewer the opportunity to be present in the moment alongside the performer, to share their own sense of Flow.
 
 

Sounddance. Dancers: Dane Hurst, Vanessa Kang, Estela Merlos, Mbulelo Ndabeni, Jon Savage. Choreography: Merce Cunningham. Music: David Tudor. Design: Mark Lancaster. Staging: Jeannie Steele.© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Sounddance. Dancers: Dane Hurst, Vanessa Kang, Estela Merlos, Mbulelo Ndabeni, Jon Savage. Choreography: Merce Cunningham. Music: David Tudor. Design: Mark Lancaster. Staging: Jeannie Steele.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Rambert has a special relationship with the Cunningham Trust. Dating back from 1987, Rambert have performed 10 pieces of Cunningham repertoire. Most recently Rambert performed its own ‘Rambert Event’ which included sections of material from all of those 10 pieces. This was a special performance collaborating with incredible artists and one that I will hold dearly.
 
 
 

Rooster. Dancers: Luke Ahmet, Adam Blyde, Daniel Davidson, Liam Francis, Hannah Rudd. Choreography: Christopher Bruce. Music: The Rolling Stones. Design: Marian Bruce.© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Rooster. Dancers: Luke Ahmet, Adam Blyde, Daniel Davidson, Liam Francis, Hannah Rudd. Choreography: Christopher Bruce. Music: The Rolling Stones. Design: Marian Bruce.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Christopher Bruce’s Rooster is a Rambert favourite. Who wouldn’t love watching dance with The Rolling Stones as a soundtrack! This section is Ruby Tuesday, danced to the track of the same name, and features the iconic long red dress. This section is all about a free spirit with no sense of reality. The four men perform a complex series of lifts with her, entertaining her ‘freedom’.
 
 
 

Stage Rehearsal. Rambert dancers.© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version) sw-stage-rehearsal-

Stage Rehearsal. Rambert dancers.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)
sw-stage-rehearsal-

The day of opening night at every venue there are technical rehearsals for the pieces to be performed that evening/week. These rehearsals are mainly to ensure all of the elements such as music, set, lights etc. come together. It also gives the dancers a chance to figure out any spacing issues due to a change of stage, and rehearsal directors a final opportunity to give notes.
 
 
 

Strange charm of mother nature. Dancers: Adam Blyde, Dane Hurst. Choreography: Mark Baldwin. Music: Stravinsky, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, JS Bach. Design: Mark Henderson. Costume design: Stevie Stewart.© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Strange charm of mother nature. Dancers: Adam Blyde, Dane Hurst. Choreography: Mark Baldwin. Music: Stravinsky, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, JS Bach. Design: Mark Henderson. Costume design: Stevie Stewart.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

 
 
 

Stage Rehearsal. Luke Ahmet, Adam Blyde, Daniel Davidson, Liam Francis, Vanessa Kang, Mikaela Polley.© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Stage Rehearsal. Luke Ahmet, Adam Blyde, Daniel Davidson, Liam Francis, Vanessa Kang, Mikaela Polley.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Whilst out on tour, the Rambert dancers are rehearsed on stage, whether it is to rehearse a cast change or to prepare repertoire for the coming venues. Rambert has two rehearsal directors, Mikaela Polley and Angela Towler. Both of them oversee the large number of pieces, ensuring all the details and choreography remain correct and consistent and teaching roles where necessary.
 
 
 

Rooster. Dancers: Adam Blyde, Daniel Davidson. Choreography: Christopher Bruce. Music: The Rolling Stones. Design: Marian Bruce.© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Rooster. Dancers: Adam Blyde, Daniel Davidson. Choreography: Christopher Bruce. Music: The Rolling Stones. Design: Marian Bruce.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

 
 
 

Terra Incognita. Dancers: Adam Blyde, Hannah Rudd. Choreography: Shobana Jeyasingh. Music: Gabriel Prokofiev. Design: Jean-Marc Puissant. Lighting design: Lucy Carter.© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Terra Incognita. Dancers: Adam Blyde, Hannah Rudd. Choreography: Shobana Jeyasingh. Music: Gabriel Prokofiev. Design: Jean-Marc Puissant. Lighting design: Lucy Carter.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

 
 
 

Stage Rehearsal. Rambert dancers.© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Stage Rehearsal. Rambert dancers.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

 
 
 

Terra Incognita. Dancers: Adam Blyde, Dane Hurst, Hannah Rudd. Choreography: Shobana Jeyasingh. Music: Gabriel Prokofiev. Design: Jean-Marc Puissant. Lighting design: Lucy Carter.© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Terra Incognita. Dancers: Adam Blyde, Dane Hurst, Hannah Rudd. Choreography: Shobana Jeyasingh. Music: Gabriel Prokofiev. Design: Jean-Marc Puissant. Lighting design: Lucy Carter.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

 
 
 

During Performance. Stage Manager: Bill Hammond.© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

During Performance. Stage Manager: Bill Hammond.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

The responsibility of the stage manager is huge. They are the unsung heros of any performing company. They have to know everything about every piece in the repertoire including but not limited to the choreography, music, set, props, lighting cues, sound cues… the list doesn’t end! They sit at the prompt corner with a radio microphone and conduct the show with precision. Shame you never get to applaud their efforts!
 
 
 

Rooster. Dancers: Liam Francis, Vanessa Kang. Choreography: Christopher Bruce. Music: The Rolling Stones. Design: Marian Bruce.© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Rooster. Dancers: Liam Francis, Vanessa Kang. Choreography: Christopher Bruce. Music: The Rolling Stones. Design: Marian Bruce.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

 
 
 

Stage Rehearsal. Conductor: Paul Hoskins. Rambert Orchestra.© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Stage Rehearsal. Conductor: Paul Hoskins. Rambert Orchestra.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Rambert is very lucky to tour and perform with a live orchestra. They are an incredibly talented group, playing both established classics such as JS Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and new commissions from talented composers. Almost all of Rambert’s repertoire is accompanied by live orchestra, with very few exceptions.
 
 
 

Frames. Dancers: Brenda Lee Grech, Dane Hurst, Simone Damberg Würtz, Miguel Altunaga.Choreography: Alexander Whitley. Music: Daniel Bjarnason. Design: Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen. Lighting Design: Lee Curran.© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Frames. Dancers: Brenda Lee Grech, Dane Hurst, Simone Damberg Würtz, Miguel Altunaga.Choreography: Alexander Whitley. Music: Daniel Bjarnason. Design: Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen. Lighting Design: Lee Curran.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

 
 
 

Rooster. Dancer: Vanessa Kang. Choreography: Christopher Bruce. Music: The Rolling Stones. Design: Marian Bruce.© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

Rooster. Dancer: Vanessa Kang. Choreography: Christopher Bruce. Music: The Rolling Stones. Design: Marian Bruce.
© Stephen Wright. (Click image for larger version)

 
 
 

About author
Work for DanceTabs

Stephen is a London based photographer and also a dancer at Rambert. His years of experience dancing in and creating for wide ranging repertoire by renowned choreographers, informs his dance photography. His images aim to capture not just conventional aesthetics of dance, but also elements of dynamism, risk and the kinaesthetic experience of performing. His work can be found at stephenwrightphotography.co.uk
2 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Stephen’s photographs and the accompanying write up
    up are really interesting. I particularly like the one taken of the orchestra
    although they’re all brilliant! Wish they were produced in a book,
    I’d buy it!

  2. Congratulations Stephen, really enjoyed your article and photos, well done.
    Glad to hear you’re doing well after your op {Peter keeps us up to date} hopefully get to see you and Vanessa before too long.

DanceTabs © 2016 All Rights Reserved

© All here is copyright DanceTabs and the author concerned. Do not steal our words or pictures please. Thank you.