Contemporary Dance: Chris Nash

The work of photographer Chris Nash has maintained a prestigious and iconic status in the creative arts for over two decades, as artwork in its own right and as advertising for contemporary dance companies. Encapsulating the expressive nature of contemporary dance, Nash’s photography is inspiring and thought provoking. His images delve into a world of emotion and sensation, where the body is the sole communicator of the choreographer’s instincts and ideas.

In the Victoria and Albert Museum’s current exhibition, ‘A Flash of Light: The Dance Photography of Chris Nash’, emotive black and white photographs are interspersed with vibrantly coloured images. Fluidity and motion provide a common theme between all of these pictures, where the dancers convey a sense of freedom and diversion. Not only does this give the audience an understanding of how escapism and true artistic expression can be achieved through dance, it also allows the photographer to tackle emotional and controversial issues. Poignant undertones percolate through the shocking images in ‘Haunted 1996’, where Nash tackles self loathing and personality disorders to challenge our perception of art. ‘Texare 1989’ explores the relationship between two people, delivering an interpretation of the support between dancers who are united through their movement and tapping into the emotional attachment they construct with the audience.

Teresa Cholmondeley by Chris Nash
Rambert by Chris Nash
Alston Lie Of The Land by Chris Nash

The music and rhythms surrounding the stillness of the photographs is almost audible: the postures and facial expressions so powerful that the audience can imagine the sounds which run parallel to the choreography captured in the frames. Light and texture give added depth and intricacy to the photographs. In ‘Orfeo 1990’ a strong light source highlights billowing fabrics that spiral around the performer, and we are left with the feeling that an innocent and personal moment has been interrupted.

Nash’s ability to capture the simultaneous elegance and aggression of contemporary dance gives us a moving depiction of artists who are completely immersed in their craft. Bold and intriguing, these photographs are an exciting analysis of everyday human emotion and the forceful beauty of physical expression.

19th March – 29th August 2011. Theatre and Performance Gallery, room 104.

Sarah Birch

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