Go Deeper

Friday Dance Showcase! Q&A with Festival Photog Bill Hebert

Posted September 23rd, 2009

The 2009 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe may be over (booooooo) but the work of Fringe-y people continues (yay!). You may recognize the name Bill Hebert from the bylines on some of our blog stories. Bill shoots photos of Live Arts and Philly Fringe shows, and a bunch of his pictures (including the shots from Postcards from the Woods below) have appeared in this space. He’s also producing a post-Festival dance showcase, his first, this Friday, September 25. I emailed Bill some questions about shooting for the Festival (some of his favorite picks/pics are interspersed below) and his plans for the showcase.

When did you first start taking pictures for the Festival?
I officially started taking pics for the Live Arts portion of the Festival last year but have been around the Fringe for at least four or five years, and I’ve been shooting dance overall for six years now. Currently I am one of the photographers capturing touring companies as part of the Dance Celebration series at the University of Pennsylvania and will be the photographer for the By Local series also at the Annenberg Center.

What have been some of your favorite shows to shoot?
Hmmm&mdash hard question number one. Definitely SCRAP during this year’s festival. I’ve known Madison Cario and Myra Bazell—the creative geniuses behind SCRAP for almost as long as I’ve been shooting. You can find some of the most beautiful movement in smallest gestures of their pieces.

How did you become interested in dance?
Supporting a dancer friend in a local hip hop dance company at the time, Montazh, which I guess plays a big part of how I approach what I do. I stink at the business side of my photography and struggle with that end of things because I love this community so much. I try to be an affordable resource to help them convey their message, their art, while still trying to make a living with my photography and fund the upkeep of my equipment. I love photographing movement in general from Modern to Ballet to Hip Hop. I try to capture the essence of the moment or should say the movement.

Who are some of your favorite choreographers in Philadelphia?
Feels like hard hitting question number two has arrived. I honestly hate to choose a specific person’s choreography, which is why shooting The A.W.A.R.D. Show! has been so difficult. I would want all of them to win money to fund their vision. Every artist deserves an opportunity to be heard.

If I was pressed to choose one company or choreographer it would be Winged Woman Dance Company and choreographer Tina Heuges Bracciale. Tina will be presenting a duet during my showcase which will appear as part of a larger work titled Residue to be presented in February of next year as part of the “By Local” series at the Annenberg Center. Tina’s movement comes from her heart and soul and is beautiful to witness. I was lucky to document the initial incarnation of Residue from the beginning of the rehearsal process to the stage, which was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had as a photographer and a fan of dance. Such an intimate look into the process was an unforgettable and special experience. Plus her dancers are so dedicated to the movement and her vision that they truly give all of themselves in the performance. I am honored to preview her work in my showcase.

Why did you decided to produce a choreography showcase?
I love what other showcases around the city have done such as the Etc. series, InHale which is at the same location as my showcase [the CHI Movement Arts Center], the Koresh Showcase, Mascher Space Co-Op, Studio 34 series and the series curated by Silvana Cardell. They give artists a chance to introduce themselves to the community, preview new work or develop works-in-progress. They give artists a chance to be heard and seen. I wanted to help support the dance community I love further and present some folks whose careers as dancers/choreographes I have been following and who I support. It’s also a chance to showcase my photography in some way shape or form.

Tell me about the process of moving from observer to producer? What are some new challenges you faced? The process is not easy. It’s one challenge to capture work but to present it is a whole different story. There are schedules to work out of the performers to tech their work, insurance to purchase for the show, figuring out how to market the show and getting folks in the seats and also trying to work on something to showcase my photography.

Who’s going to be a part of the show?
Presenting work will be Tina Heuges and her Winged Woman Dance Company; three members of Pink Hair Affair (Kaleigh Jones, Ashley Wood and Annie Wilson); Kelly Adorno a recent graduate of Temple University’s dance program: and Sinead O’Neill, a talented senior at the University of the Arts. All proceeds from the event will go to the artists, so I hope people will come support them.

The showcase will be held Friday, September 25, at the CHI Movement Arts Center, 1316 S. 9th St., Philadelphia. Tickets are $10 suggested donation or pay-what-you-can, and are available at the door. Performances start at 7:30 pm.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photos by Bill Hebert.