Tiny Dancers may actually be a bit of a misnomer since the age range of these dancers go from 9 – 17, but I like the way it sounds. And when you are on the upside of the middle age bracket, well we will leave it at that. I had the pleasure of spending three weeks with the competition team at my daughters dance school during their rehearsals. These young ladies and a young man spend upwards of ten hours a week honing their passion for dance in addition to all their school work and other school related activities. Most of them are honor students at their respective schools, some even made the National Honor Society’s achievement list. God bless them for being dedicated to such an expressive art form.
Tap is one form of dance I have never completely understood. I come from a musical background, I have a fairly eccentric and eclectic taste in music, hell, I can even shuffle, but I have never understood tap…..(Ok, you can stop laughing now, really I can, may not look very pretty but I can)…..Yet it is one of the most popular forms of dance there is. I do know one thing about it though, it is incredibly hard to do. Before my daughter started dancing I saw tap in a much different light. Other than Grover, Hines, the late Sammy Davis Jr. and White Nights anyone? I had not a clue. I get it now and continue to be amazed with how some of these girls can move their feet.
My Daughter has been part of the dance school for 7 years now and this is her third year on the competition team. This is the reason I have become so enamored with photography. I think I had a Powershot 30x when she first started dancing and once she made the team the upgrades began. From a Nikon D60 to my current horse the Canon 7D. Taking photographs in the dance studio was indeed a challenge and it certainly tested the iso capability of my camera, not something the 7D is known for. I hovered between 1600 and 2000 for all the sessions switching between a 20mm f2.8 and a 24-105 f4 all while trying to keep my shutter speed above 300. I had a 50 1.4 with me but aside from a handful of shots I rarely used it. Teenagers either love pictures or they hate them and I was very worried that some of them would feel awkward with a camera pointed at them at such close range. Maybe it would prepare the new girls for the stage, I thought, for they are stepping into the world of unknowns. The director of the dance school was very helpful in making me feel at ease. As much as I was doing this for me and my experience, I was also doing it for her and this helped put things into a different perspective.
Onto some pictures.
All the dancers on the team are required to take ballet, these are the “Senior” girls working on some technique.
And one of the juniors:
Last year was the first time our school had a competition ballet, I was incredibly proud that my daughter was one of the five girls selected for it. I feel ballet is the purest form of dance, emotional, beautiful, graceful and strength like an ox. The calves on these girls are better than some of the cyclists I know. One of my goals is to photograph a dance troupe professionally but right now I feel lucky to have a daughter heavily involved in dance and a studio director that is kind enough to let me to hone my skills.
My daughter during a momentary pause in the action:
Competition ballet group getting some instruction
A senior working on a tap routine:
On stage these girls look and dance like mature adults, I am still in awe of them after every performance, I marvel at the excitement they exude, I have experienced tears of joy, I have shaken my head in amazement, I have felt sorrow when they do not win. Our first competition of the year is in two weeks – NYC here we come! Good luck!