Gina was in the spotlight last Saturday – literally and figuratively. Anyone who follows this blog knows that we love time with the grandkids and have followed them to a variety of races, team sports, parties and gatherings. This Saturday it was a dance recital put on by Gina’s dance studio, Studio One. Heidi arranged tickets for us to attend along with Derek, her Mom, sister and Grandmother. We filled a row on the right side of the auditorium. Heidi was also nice enough to check about photo restrictions prior to the recital. She learned that still photography was allowed as long as flash was not used. Perfect (well, at least ‘good’). I went with the D800 set to “Quiet mode” and with the 70-200 f/2.8 attached. Test shots prior to Gina’s first dance told me that I’d be at ISO 5000 to 6400 to get a shutter speed of 1/250 or faster at f/2.8. I wanted 1/500 of a second so turned on AutoISO and dialed in the shutter speed I wanted using manual. I knew that there would be noise to deal with but I’ve learned that I can live with noise a lot more than I can with blurry photos. That’s just me (or is it?).
I’ll start the photo series with a shot that really inspired the title to this blog. You can see the parents of these young girls sitting in the audience with their cameras pointed at the stage. All their investment of money and time is about to be displayed as their daughter performs her fist public ballet dance. I love the fact that the girls are all over the board with the poses. Their teacher is up front and below the stage trying to lead them through the poses. Little kids just seem to march to their own drummer in spite of our best efforts as parents and guides. Read the body language on these girls. I love the two who seem to be asking “what now” with their arms and the one girl on the right who just knew that it was time to do her best spin move. Gotta love little kids all dressed up and on show.
Now to Gina’s dances. Gina is anything BUT shy and retiring. She has a ton of energy and a brilliant attitude. She puts her all into anything she does. We’ve photographed her playing lacrosse where we saw that bigger girls do not intimidate her. She’s quick and well balanced. She has fun and works hard. So when her first dance came on stage we knew we’d see a familiar Gina doing tap. Fast paced but with detail in the choreography. All the kids got a time to “star” during the routine. I stood at the side of the auditorium and shot my way through the dance while trying to predict peak moments. In retrospect it seems like the whole dance was a peak moment. But check out the facial expressions on Gina. Yes, she has fun and is comfortable with the whole thing. We all got to see the Gina we know and love.
We have been very fortunate in the past to photograph a couple of very talented ballerinas. We learned so much from Gavin Larsen who gave us the gift of a couple of hours to photograph her as she danced for us and the camera. Nikki Leopold posed for us in a private session where we learned more of the value of small details in a ballerina’s expression of the dance. Hand and wrist positions are important. Line and posture are essential to a pose. Ballet is so complex and requires strength, flexibility, grace and hours and hours of practice. This is Gina’s first year of ballet and as I watched through the lens I saw shades of Gavin as familiar poses formed for Gina. There were 3 or 4 times that smiled widely thinking of Gavin or Nikki as I watched Gina give her all to the dance. Leaping, spinning, standing poses all flowed together for us. I offer you 3 photos from the ballet. I think you can see that she is still having fun but it is clear from her expression that she is concentrating a great deal. She gives it her all and works hard to do the best she can. We love that in Gina and all our grandkids. Who wouldn’t. Thanks Gina. You make us proud.