Maiden Voyage aims to evolve the practice and performance of contemporary dance across Northern Ireland. Established in 2002 by dancer and artistic director, Nicola Curry, Maiden Voyage has produced a reputation for producing engaging and challenging work.
Manifesto involves men and women grappling with society’s expectations. Filip Van Huffel’s ‘Picture in a Frame’ offers fast-paced dynamic precision, while Luke Murphy sets an intriguing contemporary reimagining of the ballet ‘Les Noces’ in a high school reunion where past and present collide.
I got to photograph Maiden Voyage’s latest show, Manifesto at The Burnavon Theatre in Cookstown as i am the resident photographer there. I dont cover every show but just the shows that have good potential for great images. Manifesto would be one of those shows. Thought it would likely be the most difficult show i have ever photographed at The Burnavon so far.
Before the show even started i identified a few things that would make a difficult shoot even harder. The start of the show had no music so i would have to time me taking a photograph with the movements of the performers on stage. The Nikon D3s that i use has a quiet shutter mode but in a theatre the loud click of the shutter is hard to hide! The second problem would be the audience, or the lack of them. This show was attended by a small group of around 30 people so my movements would have to be very stealthy to not disturb the audience.
I knew this show would be really difficult to photograph due to the speed and movement of the dancers and the lighting used on the stage. Usually for working in the theatre i push the ISO up past 3200 to ensure sharp images with no blur. But because it was so dark and the only available light was spot lighting i had to go to ISO 6400 to get blur free images. Using an ISO value this high meant i could use a shutter speed of around 1/250th to freeze the action. The downside of course in using such a high ISO value is lots of noise on the photo. Check out the before and after photo to see what i mean. The left side of the image is untreated for noise and the right side is after noise reduction.
All of the final photos that i would hand over to the client would have to go through this treatment to remove noise.
As i could not get as close to the stage as i would of wanted for the first part of the Manifesto performance i moved between the left and right hand side of the audience seating area, at all times i stayed behind the audience. After the interval i moved up in to the roof of the theatre to gain a different perspective. Being up above the performers gave me a completely different view and actually helped to enhance an already good set of images. The biggest benefit from being up in the roof was being able to shoot when i wanted. The noise of the shutter would be damped by being up in the roof area.