Thursday, August 11, 2011

My San Francisco Angel- Dancers Among Us Finds a Guiding Light

I was fortunate to receive a very enthusiastic reception in San Francisco. So many dancers wanted to participate in Dancers Among Us that I was unable to work with everyone. I will definitely make another trip to that amazing city.

What really surprised me was the number of volunteers who showed up to assist and watch the process, even though I made no such request.

Most notably-

Anna Marie Panlilio, a terrific dance photographer, coordinated the initial shoot and connected me with several fun local dancers.

Stephen Lee, a student at UC Davis, spent two very long days at my side, enthusiastically assisting in all capacities.

Meagan Reidinger
, a gifted photographer studying at Brooks Institute, drove over 400 miles from southern California to be a part of the process.

And then there was Dudley Flores with Garrett + Moulton Productions, Printz Dance Project, and RAWdance. He was one of many dancers to email me in the days leading up to my arrival. His tone was so warm that I contacted him immediately. His modesty did not prepare me for his talent, which surprised me right from the start.

As always, I had done very little research before arriving for the first day of shooting. Three dancers and three assistants I had never met greeted me at a local coffee shop. After about a minute I asked, "So, where should we go?" Everyone seemed a bit surprised by my lack of preparation. They must not read my blog.

As I would later come to know, Dudley was a fountain of ideas. "Fisherman's Wharf is right around the corner, and the sea lions might be there." That sounded promising to me.

The sea lions were indeed there and drawing a crowd, which made for a photogenic location. Given the commotion, the dancer would have to do something pretty spectacular to draw attention. I turned to Dudley, "Can you balance on that overhang without falling into the bay?"

He didn't blink. I took 323 shots from five different angles. This was one of the last ones-

I had found my muse. Photo-love at first sight. Later I asked him to jump high off a wall and pretend he had to pee really badly. We only needed 25 shots that time.

The shoot was becoming the Dudley Flores Show, but I couldn't resist using him again. I wanted a cable car shot, as well as a steep hill shot- we found them both with one location. Dudley partnered with Jenni Bregman to create an image I call, "What's a girl gotta do to get laid in San Francisco?"

From that point on, Dudley was with me for every shoot. He often found amazing dancers to fit my concepts, and he was constantly offering ideas for locations. Twice he even traveled far from San Francisco just to collaborate. He was willing to slide on a wetsuit just to be a background player as his friend Brendan Barthel from Robert Moses' Kin got the attention.

When he drove RAWdance Artistic Directors Ryan Smith and Wendy Rein to The Dish on Stanford campus, I had to spontaneously put his amazing talent to use once again.

And finally, just for fun, I posed him with Brendan for a few quick shots in The Castro District.

As I travel around the country for Dancers Among Us I will be very lucky to find other dancers who are invested in the process and willing to volunteer their time and talents. But no matter where I go, I seriously doubt I will find anyone who compares to Dudley.

Perhaps I'll take him on the road with me.