A photograph is a photograph, and a dance is a dance: stillness versus movement. At first sight these two art forms might seem to be poles apart, but the exhibition "Dancing Light," showing throughout the newly double-sized Huis Marseille, proves the opposite. Along with film and video, photography turns out to be an ideal way to illuminate the characteristic emotionality and transport of dance—its 'primal power' to move us.
To unravel the mystery at the heart of dance, the exhibition takes inspiration from flamenco and its concept of duende, that intangible and ineffable moment of rapture when the chemistry between flamenco musicians, dancers and audience bubbles up and overwhelms everyone. Duende (literally 'elf' or 'spirit') is an untranslatable concept, a mysterious force that is manifested in the combination of certain sounds, words and gestures. "Dancing Light" captures the raw expression of flamenco in photography and in moving images. For example, Spanish photographer Xavier Misearchs reveals the extremely individual dance expression of the deaf flamenco dancer Antoñita La Singla, whose unique energy was captured in the early 1960s. It is, of course, true that once a dance is over its momentum vanishes; but a photo or video not only fixes our original experience, it also independently adds something to our memory.
The photographer Noaya Ikegami documented every performance by the legendary butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno from 1977: "I was astonished by the strong emotional energy coming out from Ohno's body, which required me to use all of my energy to photograph him." Ikegami's photographs have captured forever deeply poignant moments from performances by the ageing Ohno and the power and expressiveness of these photographs have earned them a fame of their own.
Choreography is used to define and prescribe dance movements, but in fashion photography it is used to make poses more natural. The fluidity of the movement of trained dancers is analyzed in ultra-slow motion in David Michalek's "Slow Dancing." In "Untitled (Ghost)" by Elad Lassry the spirit of the dance is almost literally personified. Choreography is the beating heart of these artworks, the rhythm of—and the vehicle for—works inspired by dance.
— From the notes of Huis Marseille
Editor's Note: The exhibition Dancing Light / Let it move you... pulls together many different kinds of artistic expression to create a richly thought-provoking and inspiring show. The leaps and connections from photographers to dancers to videographers and choreographers are all quite compelling. The way the exhibition is organized — the wide range of work, the flow of the presentations, the pacing, along with several previously unprinted images all contribute to a show that is pure inspiration. It is on display until March 8, 2015 in all the galleries of the newly double-sized Huis Marseille. Dance performances were given during the exhibition in collaboration with the Flamenco Biënnale. See more, and read some excellent interviews with some of the artists at the Huis Marseille website (in English and Dutch).