4PHOTOS with Damien Thompson on Hyde Park School of Dance’s “Amira: A Chicago Cinderella Story”
The earliest known surviving photograph made in a camera was produced in the late 1820’s, and since then, photographs have been an integral vehicle for preservation, expression, and storytelling. From magazines to treasured family scrapbooks, photographs have the power to transport and evoke emotion, especially when combined with other artistic forms, like dance.
The dancers’ balletic movement and gestures are the main vein for storytelling, but what completes this scenic journey are the projections and illustrations Tye has created in collaboration with photographer Damien Thompson and illustrator Sara Petrolis.
If you recall our PRE-View of Hyde Park School of Dance’s Amira: A Chicago Cinderella Story, then you may remember HPSD Artistic Director August Tye mention that the Prince’s journey to find his princess, Amira, leads him on a search through some iconic neighborhoods on Chicago’s south side. The dancers’ balletic movement and gestures are the main vein for storytelling, but what completes this scenic journey are the projections and illustrations Tye has created in collaboration with photographer Damien Thompson and illustrator Sara Petrolis. DancerMusic got an exclusive sneak peek at the images to be used in Amira, and asked Damien Thompson to tell us more about the process of creating these powerful images and what role they play in bringing Amira to life. Take a journey through Chicago’s south side as you learn what Damien told us:
The China Town welcome sign was an obvious choice. This shot really set the tone for the project. I shot long exposures of the cars darting under and past the sign and compiled them as a repeating animation to bring the scene to life.
Abandoned Church (Gary, Indiana)
The image of a crumbled and abandoned building is one of my favorites. It screams sadness and desolation. But there is something beautiful about the decay and the implied movement in the rubble. Desaturated images like this one represent an unease and help to convey the tension evoked by the dancers.
Chicago Cultural Center
I liked the idea of using the Cultural Center for the party scene not just because it is so beautiful, but because it is the “people’s building”. I love that it is free and full of art, and it’s right in the heart of downtown.
The shot of downtown traffic caught me by surprise. The light was so beautiful that I had to shoot it. I didn’t have my tripod at the time so I rested the camera on my bag and made the exposures. There’s a bit of jumpiness to the final animation but I kind of like it.
I wanted to create a series of images that would complement the movement on stage without being overpowering. I chose to create backgrounds where most of the scene is static, but in most cases there is an element of action. I intentionally used color (or the absence of color) to help convey emotion.
Hyde Park School of Dance premieres Amira: A Chicago Cinderella Story on Friday, June 15 at 7pm, with additional performances Saturday, June 16 at 1pm and 6pm, and Sunday, June 17 at 2pm. All performances take place at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 East 60th Street Chicago, IL 60637.
Tickets are available online at hydeparkdance.org/tickets or in person in the HPSD administrative office (located at 5650 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago) during open office hours (3 pm – 6 pm weekdays, 8 am – 1 pm Saturdays). To purchase tickets via phone, call the HSPD office at 773-493-8498 during open office hours (3 pm – 6 pm weekdays, 8 am – 1 pm Saturdays).
To learn more about Hyde Park School of Dance, visit hydeparkdance.org.