Old Havana is marked by Colonial neoclassic buildings crumbling into ruin. The tableaux is romantic, embellished by old taxis, preserved from the 1950’s. There is a constant sigh in the descent toward Earth of saturated color, struggling to be heard through the dust. Ornate flourishes take a softer edge, like a mountain being carved into a river canyon. It is easy to forget that people live in these buildings where even a working toilet can be a luxury. It is a period where there is finally the needed care going into these structures (though many have to be demolished) and there is renovation happening. The state they are in has been a defining element in the city and this begins the end of an era. Their beauty is a privilege to experience. I was speaking to one of the dancers in the company about this and he communicated with such pride about it. He urged me to document them while I was there. It made me think about how the residence of a company matters a lot. The culture we make work in is an important influence. So many companies are named for the city they reside in and ballet companies especially are often a part of the city’s ownership, like a football team. The pace of life, the people, the terrain are the repeated images of life and will wind their way into how a dancer paces their energy, how a choreographer perceives space.
I had just finished my project photographing naked athletes in the terrain of Idaho and I felt like I was developing a voice in communicating the human form…especially in relationship to natural surroundings. It occurred to me that this could be a beautiful next step in that exploration and the idea came that I would work on a series of dancers in relationship to the place that they call home. Not necessarily all natural spaces, but places that have significance either to the city or to the individual.
I put my idea out to Malpaso and three company members volunteered to explore this new idea with me.