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Sunday September 15, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday September 15, 2013 MYT 7:10:57 AM
by revathi murugappan
Ananda Tandava by A. Prathap captures dancer Guna in mid-air.
Two lensmen capture the male rhythm in dance.
CAPTURING dancers in motion on camera is not easy. Any photographer can attest to this.
With every performance, expressions can differ, positions might change, alignment may be skewed, jumps may not be of similar height, etc. There are numerous things that can go wrong, besides stage technicalities and lighting.
Photographers S. Magendran from Malaysia and A. Prathap from India tirelessly worked over five days last year to capture male poetry in motion, which has encapsulated in the ongoing Joined In Dance exhibition being showcased at Sutra Gallery in Kuala Lumpur.
The photographs provide a compelling testament and documentation of the beauty and vigour of male dancing taken during Sutra Foundation’s Nartaka Festival, which brought together the male dance fraternity from Malaysia, India and Australia. It featured the traditional Indian classical dance genres of bharatanatyam, odissi, manipuri, and contemporary dance from the indigenous and Asian perspectives.
Male dancers have been declining over the years, as the profession is not lucrative since the returns do not commensurate with the investment put forward. Yet, we all remember the beauty and athleticism of some of the iconic male dancers of the 20th century such as Vaslav Nijinsky, Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Ram Gopal.
“They were the Gods of dance,” says Ramli Ibrahim, the co-artistic director of the festival.
“We would all have been poorer without these stars who adorned the firmament of our dance stage. Men should discover once again that dance is the most natural and healthiest way to integrate their outer and inner landscapes.”
Hence the exhibition is aimed at bringing attention to the challenges faced by male dancers in many of our contemporary societies. The exhibition is also part of the 50th Hari Malaysia celebration. There are a total of 22 photographs on display, 11 from each photographer.
Magendran took up photography seriously in 2008, after leaving his job in the finance industry. Though not a dancer, dance holds a special place in his heart and he has been working closely with Sutra Dance Theatre’s performances since 2010. His big opportunity came about when he was requested to document Sutra’s performance tour of Angkor in Cambodia, which culminated in a successful solo exhibition Sublime Angkor last year.
“Dance photography is difficult because it involves movement. I’m not a magician so I saw some of the rehearsals, did research and got to know the dancers. It’s more difficult to shoot men because their expressions are flat, unlike women who are more expressive and sensual,” explains the self-taught cameraman.
Most of his exhibits are of dancers in contact with the floor. This, says Magendran, is because he likes to shoot people’s expressions so that it can tell a story. Prathap, on the other hand, likes to take dancers in mid-air to show fast-paced action.
“When covering dance, I wait to capture the magical moment when body and spirit resonate to represent human phenomenon at its highest expression. I’m cautious about the postures but since I’ve been covering it for a while, I sort of know what is right,” says Prathap, who is a senior photographer with The Times Of India in Chennai.
With almost a decade of experience in the newspaper industry, he has covered a multitude of assignments but is attracted to arts and culture.
Prathap says, “Performances look so easy, but that’s far from the truth. It takes years of hard work and dedication for just those few minutes of beauty and grace. I want to capture for eternity the dedication and love the performers have for their art, and then share these treasured moments with others. When this magic happens, photography transcends mere documentation and becomes art.”
Joined In Dance is being held at Sutra Gallery, 12 Jalan Persiaran Titiwangsa 3, Kuala Lumpur until Sept 22. For more information, contact 03-4021-1092 (9.30am to 6pm, Monday-Friday).
Tags / Keywords:
Entertainment, Arts, Dance, Males, Exhibition, Photography, Sutra Foundation, Joined In Dance, S.Magendran, A.Prathap.
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