Photographer Courts Dancers for Sculptural Exhibition

28 August 2009

You've seen the statue of David - or at least from your history books. Head to Toi Poneke Gallery from 14 September and you'll see dance photography reminiscent of the detail-rich statues and sculptures of the Renaissance.

Stephen A'Court's Body celebrates the energy of dance and the sculptural dimensions of the body. It features about 20 large photographic artworks, some of them life-size. Many people will already recognise Stephen's work - he's been professionally photographing dancers and performers for more than a decade.

Working with choreographer Sarah Foster and students of the New Zealand School of Dance, Stephen has moved into a more artistic realm - experimenting with different techniques including using less light and positioning the lights in unconventional ways around the dancers.

One of the things he likes most about photographing dancers is getting the moment right.

"In a way, photography as an art form is the antithesis of dance. Dance is full of movement, where photographers seek to freeze such fluidity into one moment. The best result is to achieve the essence of that movement in a frame - where the dancer is clearly moving in a certain direction," he says.

Coming from a family of performers, Stephen says he has always warmed to expressive people, but he himself prefers to remain behind the scenes. His preferred subjects have always been dancers.

"They are the least self-conscious people to photograph," he says. "Their energy and dedication to cultivating their bodies for their art is fascinating. One of the reasons I chose to develop and exhibit this work is that there's just not enough dance to photograph on a commercial or promotional basis."

Stephen worked as an editor for Radio New Zealand for six years before deciding to change career. He spent two years studying photography at Wellington Polytechnic and has worked as a professional photographer ever since. To help focus on his artistic practice, Stephen took up residency at Toi Pōneke Arts Centre last year.

This exhibition is also part of the month-long Dance Your Socks Off! festival, which kicks off on 1 September. Limited editions of the work will be for sale. For a sneak preview, see the Related Links below and check out Stephen's website.

Body opens at 5.30pm on Friday 11 September and runs until Friday
2 October at Toi Pōneke Gallery, 61 Abel Smith Street.