Book: Movement at the Still Point: An Ode to Dance
Author: Mark Mann, Rizzoli International Publications, March 2023.
Mark Mann’s Movement at the Still Point: An Ode to Dance is a visually stunning book full of intimate detail. It has a New York/American bias because it was photographed by Mann during the major Covid lockdown.
The title comes from a T.S. Eliot poem; there is a table of contents and a forward by Chita Rivera. All the photos were taken with Mann’s Leica named Greta and shot in black and white. Dancers of various ages and styles are featured, including ballet, modern/contemporary, Broadway, hip hop, breakdancing, ballroom, Flamenco, vogue, tap, post-modern and Bharatanatyam. Physically challenged dancers are also included.
Included in the 240 pages of the book are Misty Copeland, Chita Rivera, James Whiteside, Tiler Peck, Andy Blankenbuehler, Carmen De Lavallade and Kyle Abraham. There are also photographs of New York City Ballet’s Sara Mearns, Megan LeCrone and Georgina Pazcoguin; Martha Graham Dance Company principals Lloyd Knight and Xin Ying; Broadway’s Skye Mattox, Karla Garcia, David Guzman, Ricardo Zayas, Morgan Marcell, Ryan Vandenboom and Curtis Holland; Argentine tango dancers Dardo Galletto and Alonso Guzman; tap artist Evan Ruggiero; and many more.
There are fabulous close-ups of the texture of swirling material, intimate portraits and the feet – shod or barefoot, and at times busted! Some are photographed with a partner, pet or a baby. Leaps and leg extensions as well as intimate portraits of the artists are included — Mann capturing “the moment.”
Mann stresses how light was important. Mann’s photos are linked by the use of black and white, the same neutral backcloth, and the framing of the photo that includes windows and walls visible.
We learn from interviews scattered throughout that for almost all the dancers included, dance is core to their identity; it is a calling/vocation. We learn of their discipline and dedication, how it can be spiritual, a meditation. It is personal expression yet also universal; the sense of the dance community is mentioned. For some, it is not a choice but a dangerous reality, and there is mention of injury and recovery, and how the body gives out at times. But their strength and resilience continue. Sometimes, they can transition to another area within the dance world (e.g. teaching or admin).
This book is a testament to the power of the dancer’s expression, in movement and stillness – they are caught in a moment of humour, glee or expectancy. Sometimes, it seems as though they forget the camera is there and they are focusing on Mann.
Movement at the Still Point: An Ode to Dance is a captivating book.
By Lynne Lancaster of Dance Informa.