by Augusta Monet
“The images tell us not only where the dancer was, but where they are headed, giving us
a small journey inside each static image.”
How can something as active as dance be contained in a still? Baryshnikov’s latest photography exhibit presents a dazzling study.
Looking for the Dance:
Mikhail Baryshnikov x Lighthouse Immersive
Dance is a medium of action, and is perhaps one of the most difficult art forms to capture in photography. Looking for the Dance, Mikhail Baryshnikov’s latest exhibit in partnership with Lighthouse Immersive, takes up the task of expressing movement in photography. Beginning September 18th, Looking for the Dance will be presented at One Yonge Street in Toronto, alongside select images from his previous series, Dance This Way, and Dominican Moves. For this Canadian collaboration, the acclaimed dancer, actor, and photographer has put together a breathtaking display of his quest to capture dance in transformative moments. It is a document of his journeys, from exploring the milonga and tango of Argentina, to the South Indian Odissi styles. In his own words, “On these journeys, more than the shape, I am looking for emotional impact through colors, gestures, and steps of the dance and dancers.” Despite being stills, the photos are vigorously alive. After the success of the exhibition, inaugurated in 2013 at the Contini Art Gallery in Venice, and its subsequent presentation at the Cortina d’Ampezzo location, Baryshnikov’s series makes its way to Toronto.
Those familiar with his work will know that Baryshnikov is considered one of the greatest dancers of our time, and that Toronto is a special place for him. After launching his career at the Kirov Ballet Company in St. Petersburg, he escaped the Soviet Union in 1974 while on tour in Toronto. At 26, Baryshnikov finished a performance at the Meridian Theatre, and promptly slipped out the back, evading his KGB handlers and sprinting to a nearby getaway car. He then hid out in Canada until he was granted political asylum, going on to dance with major companies in the West. His dancing distinguished itself then and now via his clarity of imagery, marrying impressive technical physicality with a deep emotional and dramatic prowess. At first, he was hesitant to take up the camera for dancers, as he considered it monotonous and shallow replicas of reality. How could something as active as dance be contained in a still? Looking for the Dance provides Baryshnikov’s latest answer to that question. The particular style of his body of work has become known for its amorphous quality, capturing not only how the dance looks, but also how it feels in the body.
Read the full article in the print edition of Issue No.7!
Issue No.7 features in-depth interview with artists and arts organizations across 10 cities.