Movement in still form

Exploring the intimate moments of dance creation with photographer Camilla Greenwell

By Sadler's Wells

Charlie Morrissey & Katye Coe for Wild Card: Katye Coe – Preparation (2015) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

When we think about dance, we think about movement.

The body in motion, a piece of choreography as its own unique but universal language.

In photography, dance lives and breathes in a different way.

Capturing movement in still form is a fascinating contradiction. 
How can it help us to see dance differently?

Yinka Esi Graves, Noemí Luz and Magdalena Mannion for Wild Card: dotdotdot dance (2016) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

Behind the scenes

Sadler’s Wells is a world-leading creative organisation, which exists to make and share dance that inspires us all. 

This collection of photographs by Camilla Greenwell gives us access to behind the scenes moments of the creative process: artists coming together to make the dance we eventually see in performance. These are moments that audience members don’t usually get to see, and moments that artists are ready to experience again in a post-pandemic world. 

Verena Schneider, Fernando Balsera, Stephen Moynihan & Sophie Arstall for Wild Card: Hagit Yakira (2016) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

Camilla Greenwell has been photographing dance for 10 years

Collaborating with artists from a range of different dance backgrounds – including flamenco, hip hop, contemporary and Indian classical dance – she captures some of the most intimate moments of creation, the process of a dance work coming to life.

‘I think a good photograph is all about how it makes you feel, what it makes you remember, or what it reveals to you, rather than something that is technically perfect – which is also how I feel about dance itself.’
–Camilla Greenwell

Stefan Jovanović, Charlie Cattrall & Pau Aran Gimeno for Wild Card: Stefan Jovanovic – Constellations (2019) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

‘The attempt to capture movement in a still image opens up this space to see a glimpse of something else happening. Often, dance moves so fast, so you may take in the whole visual experience in front of you, but you will undoubtedly miss individual moments. When I shoot dance, I tend to hone in on these moments, rather than capturing a wide scene.’
–Camilla Greenwell

Simone Damberg Würtz & Stephen Quildan for Kim Brandstrup – Life is a Dream by Rambert (2018) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

'It’s a special place, being in the studio. Having the expression to just make work, and work with other people, has always a been a kind of blessing.'
–Botis Seva

Botis Seva for Far From the Norm – BLKDOG (2018) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

Botis Seva
00:00

Botis Seva reflects on what time in the studio means to him personally, and as a dance artist.

Shangomola Edunjobi for Far From the Norm – BLKDOG (2018) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

My favourite shots are when you see the dancers’ facial expressions. You get a window into what they are feeling as they perform.' 
–Camilla Greenwell

Joshua Nash for Far From the Norm – BLKDOG (2018) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

'You will never be able to fully replicate what’s happening in front of you, but that’s not the point, and I think this allows for a lot of creative freedom and interpretation.’ 
–Camilla Greenwell

Jordan Douglas & Ezra Owen for Far From the Norm – BLKDOG (2018) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

L: Olivia Edginton, Nicolas Vendange, Tanja Erhart, Laura Patay & Mickaella Dantas / R: Mickaella Dantas for Hetain Patel – Let’s Talk About Dis by Candoco Dance Company (2018) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

L-R: Stephanie McMann, Flora Wellesley Wesley and Eleanor Sikorski for Nora invites Deborah Hay – Where Home Is (2019) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

Flora Wellesley Wesley
00:00

Flora Wellesley Wesley discusses why time in the studio is so precious for her as a dance artist.

Fernando Balsera, Stephen Moynihan & Verena Schneider for Wild Card: Hagit Yakira (2016) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

Wild Card

Wild Card is an artist development initiative launched by Sadler’s Wells in 2013. It invites the next generation of artists to curate an evening of work for a live audience and broaden ideas about dance as it’s being made today.

Over the years, the scale and ambition of Wild Card has grown, as artists including Botis Seva, Katye Coe and Stefan Jovanović curate experiences that provoke and excite audiences, offering fresh perspectives on dance.

Stefan Jovanović, Katye Coe & Pau Aran Gimeno for Wild Card: Stefan Jovanovic – Constellations (2019) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

Camilla’s photography practice has developed alongside the artists she photographs. Key to her practice is understanding different artists’ languages and how to translate them visually.

Katye Coe, Pau Aran Gimeno & Stefan Jovanović for Wild Card: Stefan Jovanovic – Constellations (2019) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

This trust allows for experimentation, an opportunity to focus on moments that as audience members, we might not see or notice when a work is on the stage.

Charlie Morrissey & Katye Coe for Wild Card: Katye Coe – Preparation (2015) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

Katye Coe
00:00

Katye Coe reflects on the co-creation between a dance artist and photographer.


'Artists often place themselves in a very vulnerable state during rehearsals, so to be sensitive to that, and be able to get the shots you need, can be a challenge. I think what helps is that I’m incredibly shy, so I like to be quiet and observe.'
–Camilla Greenwell

Pepa Ubera for Wild Card: Pepa Ubera – The Palest Light (2016) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

Seeta Patel for Wild Card: Seeta Patel – Something Then, Something Now (2014) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells


‘I like photographs that provoke questions more than they provide answers, and I love to capture people in the space they inhabit, which lies somewhere between performing and reality.' 
–Camilla Greenwell 

Seeta Patel for Wild Card: Seeta Patel – Something Then, Something Now (2014) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

'Life is full of uncanny, surreal moments, which performance often echoes, and I like images which explore that. I also think that images which provide a window onto another world, someone else’s life, or a place we could never go, are really interesting.’ 
–Camilla Greenwell 

Joel Brown & Olivia Edginton for Hetain Patel – Let’s Talk About Dis by Candoco Dance Company (2018) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

L: Welly O’Brien & Victoria Fox in creation for Caroline Bowditch – Dedicated To… / R: Toke Broni Strandby for Hetain Patel – Let’s Talk About Dis by Candoco Dance Company (2017) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

Ali Goldsmith & Rhys Dennis for James Cousins Company – Epilogues (2018) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

Collaboration

Collaboration is often at the heart of dance making. While every artist’s practice is different, what happens in rehearsals – the physical dialogue, how choreography can change and evolve with a dancer’s individual style – lays the foundations for the work we later see on stage.

Chihiro Kawasaki & Jemima Brown, for James Cousins Company – Epilogues (2018) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

‘Dance lends itself so well to being captured, as a photographer it’s really a dream situation to work with all these incredible performers and lighting and set designers. You are never short of something beautiful or interesting to shoot.'
–Camilla Greenwell

Ali Goldsmith & Rhys Dennis for James Cousins Company – Epilogues (2018) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

'I’ve found those I’ve worked with in the dance world to be incredibly open, intuitive, creatively charged people who are very collaborative by nature – it makes the whole process very special and different from the other types of photography I do.’
Camilla Greenwell

Victoria Shulungu for Far From the Norm – BLKDOG (2019) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

An artform that connects us

Dance has always been a way for people to share stories and emotions, to investigate what it means to be human. 

During the pandemic, when many artists, audiences and communities could no longer come together in person to make and share dance, we have felt the need for this type of connection more than ever. 

Yinka Esi Graves for Wild Card: dotdotdot dance (2016) by Camilla GreenwellSadler's Wells

These photographs of intimate rehearsal room moments make us grateful for time spent working together in person. These are moments so many of us are craving to get back to. 

They also remind us of the time, energy and craft that goes into making dance, and of the many people who collaborate to bring a performance to life – the lighting, set and costume designers, stage managers, technicians, dancers, choreographers and audiences.

As we emerge from a year like no other, these photographs remind us that despite all that has changed, the capacity of dance artists and professionals to inspire us, human to human, remains undiminished.

Botis Seva for Far From the Norm – BLKDOG, Camilla Greenwell, 2018, From the collection of: Sadler's Wells
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Shangomola Edunjobi for Far From the Norm – BLKDOG, Camilla Greenwell, 2018, From the collection of: Sadler's Wells
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This exhibition can be experienced in a range of formats at
www.sadlerswells.com/camilla-greenwell

Credits: Story

All photography (c) Camilla Greenwell

'With thanks to all the incredible artists who have welcomed me into the studio and trusted me to tell their stories. My practise has developed because of your generosity and collaboration, and I feel so grateful to be able to work in this way with such wonderful humans.'

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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