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Finding synchronicity in dance photography 

click to enlarge From the Colorado Springs Dance Theatre's "Dance Dessert and Dreams" performance at Wasson High School. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • From the Colorado Springs Dance Theatre's "Dance Dessert and Dreams" performance at Wasson High School.
For the past few years I've been fortunate enough to be invited to photograph the Colorado Springs Dance Theatre's performance called "Dance, Dessert and Dreams." It's a performance of many different dance studios from across Colorado Springs.

The studios get together to put on a really fast-paced show of continuous dance numbers, one after the other. This year's performance held, at the old Wasson High School theater, was perhaps one of the best I've been able to photograph yet.

When I'm taking pictures of dance I'm really focused on the timing the dancers and timing my own picture taking to capture them in a cohesive, synchronous way. This is difficult to do, but if I take enough photographs I can usually eke out a few really great photographs of the dancers.

One of the most beautiful aspects of dance is when the dancers are all moving in sync with one another. This graceful act of 1/2 a dozen to a dozen dancers on stage is wonderful to watch, and it really excites an audience.

To make pictures that show this well, it requires a fast shutter speed to make pictures the portray this synchrony well. Careful framing is also a must. Arms and legs flying around on stage are all too easy to cut off in the frame and thereby ruining what could be a really great moment. I like to use a long lens and try to make sure my focus is centered on stage.

The closer you are is also better in dance photography, and so every once in a while I will move down the aisle and reframe the dancers to try and capture better expressions along with their graceful movements from close up.

It's as exciting for me to capture dancers moving in synchronicity as it is to watch them. Usually, I never "see" this until after I get the photographs back and view them using my photo editing software. I get to relive the thrill of the dance when I see a really great photograph that captures them in perfect synchronicity on my monitor.
Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.

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