The Soul of Dance

The Études photographs are inspired and driven by the pure and timeless energy of classical dance. Below the eventful surface, these works show some of the prominent characteristics of photography, which the essayist and philosopher Walter Benjamin appraised (in general):

"Here the camera intervenes with the resources of its lowerings and liftings, its interruptions and isolations, its extensions and accelerations, its enlargements and reductions. The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses."*

Taking up these thoughts, the Études photographs provide a deep insight into the inner mechanics of picture-making and its intrinsic motivations. Classical dance moves are recorded with different speeds in an elaborate technical and artistic process, thereby extended or accelerated, also interrupted. Sections are visually emphasized and grouped. Benjamin's "unconscious optics" could relate to the rapid dance movements, now to be recognized in every impulse and detail.

Earlier attempts to depict motion mostly were limited to black spaces for technical reasons. These spaces resembled the laboratories where chrono- or high-speed photography originated, like the lab of engineer and photographer Harald E. "Doc" Edgerton at the M.I.T. in the 1920s. Chrono-photography is focussing on picturing rapid movements in single images or sequences. The pioneers of the technique already succeeded in depicting rapid action of various kinds in the second half of the 19th Century and so partly defined the way how events, which are too fast for the human eye, are perceived today.

Using the electronic flashlight as a high-speed stroboscope gives the possibility to capture the delicacy and grace of classic dance on film. The use of specific enhanced camera equipment and 21st-century scanning techniques made it possible to portray a dancer in many different sequential moves on stage. Every elegant movement of the slender yet strong limbs of young Georgian-born ballerina Tata Jashiashvili is meticulously recorded in the wide sequential images. This fruitful cooperation of the ballerina – a performing artist at home on stages like the Berlin State Opera – and the tech-savvy photographer generated images which make it possible to enjoy the beauty of dance movements in panoramic pictures filling the spectator's field of vision with delicate detail. 

*Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, part XIII, 1936, transcribed by Andy Blunden 1998


Eight Études photographs by Horst Kløver have been part of the art portfolio of Lumas edition gallery.