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My year in theatre, dance and portrait photography 2014

January 30th, 2015 by Helen

Jersey Boys - UK Tour

At this time of year it is good to reflect on the past twelve months, so I thought I would display some of my theatre and dance work of 2014, putting more of an emphasis on shows I haven’t previously blogged. I am extremely fortunate in that I get to shoot some excellent productions across the UK, from small fringe plays to big West End productions, and I love the variety of the shows. There are often pragmatic differences between shooting at a sixty seater venue than a one that holds 2500 people, but ultimately it is about capturing those few moments that encapsulate the show.

Jersey Boys - UK Tour

This year I have been lucky enough to work on a lot of UK tours. I shot the Jersey Boys rehearsal images in London but I travelled to Manchester and Sunderland to take production images. Shrek the Musical rehearsed in the capital, but opened in Leeds. In 2014 I also worked in Plymouth, Bristol, Stratford-upon Avon, Birmingham, Salford, Stoke on Trent, Bradford, Southampton and Cardiff. The quality of theatres across the UK is superb, and it has been a pleasure to visit so many cities.

Shrek the Musical UK Tour

Donkey and Dragon Shrek the Musical Freak Flag - Shrek the Musical Shrek the Musical

Shrek the Musical Shrek the Musical Shrek the Musical Shrek the Musical

Please click on a thumbnail to see larger images.

Promotional photography for Shrek the Musical

I was also asked to take studio photographs of the cast of Shrek for promotional use. Check out my previous blog post to view more images and see a video of the shoot.

The Roof - Fuel

The Roof - Fuel

I travelled to Bristol for The Roof by Fuel. It was such an unusual show, part theatre, part dance, part movement, and very compelling. Unfortunately it rained heavily on both nights of the dress rehearsals, so I was only able to take a few images before the rehearsals were called off. What little I did manage to photograph was intriguing and very dynamic. As a photographer working in the performing arts, this is one of the many times you need to react to the situation and deal with you hand you are given. It can be frustrating to lose the opportunity to shoot the show from start to finish, but I always know that however difficult it is for me, it is even harder for the cast and crew who are usually opening the next day. It is excellent when you manage to get the images despite the conditions – and the feeling that you have managed to succeed against the odds is one of the many reasons I relish live photography. On the opposite end of the spectrum I photographed The Mousetrap Tour, a London institution, it has had a very successful tour across the UK and Ireland. Conditions could not be more different – we took the images during a photocall which meant the photos were set up for me and then lines of the play were run. The director and I moved the cast around to get the best looking photos, and these are then displayed front of house at the venues and in the local press when the play comes to town.

The Mousetrap UK tour

Secret Theatre Show 4

Secret Theatre Show 4 Secret Theatre Show 4 Secret Theatre Show 4 Lyric Hammersmith Secret Theatre Show 6

The Lyric Hammersmith in London is one of my favourite venues – and it was one of my earliest theatre clients. This year I captured three of their Secret Theatre productions, Show 4, Show 5 and Show 6, and also photographed promotional images for them. I was in Kingston, at the Rose theatre for Hetty Feather – a dramatisation of Jacqueline Wilson’s best selling books and at the Arcola Theatre in Hackney for Tamasha’s My Name Is…

Hetty Feather at the Rose Theatre Kingston

My Name is... by Tamasha

In April I travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon to the Swan Theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Roaring Girl, and The Witch of Edmonton. Also for the RSC, I was asked to shoot more production images of the London production of Matilda the Musical after their recast. I have been extremely lucky this year to have shot an extremely wide range of shows, from Beauty and the Beast in Istanbul, Frantic Assembly’s The Believers, Rifco’s Happy Birthday Sunita featuring the phenomenal Shabana Azmi, One Snowy Night at the Discover Children’s Story Centre and the Donmar’s Henry IV. Please click on the thumbnails to see larger images.

One Snowy Night at the Discover Children's Story Centre The Witch of Edmonton The Believers

Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse Rifco's Happy Birthday Sunita Beauty and the Beast

RSC's The Roaring Girl

Matilda the Musical production photography

Matilda the Musical production photography

I also shoot promotional images using studio lighting and this year I shot a number of images for posters. Please click on the thumbnails to see larger images:

Oh What a Lovely War! Macbeth The Believers - promotional poster

Poster for The One Selfie by the National Youth Theatre  Private Peaceful

I have shot some fantastic dance performances in 2014, including Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake and Lord of the Flies and the Royal Ballet’s Don Quixote.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

Sometimes the line between dance and theatre becomes very blurred – in the summer I took rehearsal images for Guys and Dolls for the Chichester Festival Theatre, which was choreographed by the ballet star Carlos Acosta.

Guys and Dolls - Carlos Acosta directing the ensemble

The male ensemble leap in the air during Guys and Dolls rehearsals

Here are some more of my rehearsal images, including Terence Rattigan’s Variation on a Theme, the RSC’s Matilda and The Witch of Edmonton, Memphis and The Believers.

The Witch of Edmonton Rehearsing Shrek the Musical Memphis the Musical rehearsals

The Believers rehearsals Hetty Feather rehearsals photography Rachel Stirling rehearsing Variation on a Theme

Gregory Doran directing The Witch of Edmonton RSC's Matilda the Musical Rehearsals Rehearsing Shrek the Musical

Ian Reddington photographed by Helen Maybanks

It is great shooting portraiture, although it is very different to a lot of the other work I do. Ideally with rehearsal and production photography the subjects should be unaware you are there. In reality this is difficult to achieve as most people are very camera conscious, but even so you tend to keep your distance during the shoot and observe rather than interact. When taking a portrait the photographer and subject need to have a rapport, it is my job to help the sitter relax and trust me, and normally this needs to be done very quickly. I love talking to my subjects, and getting to know them a little better, and last year was no exception. Here are a few of the images I took this year, including Ian Reddington for Oh What a Lovely War!

Beverley Knight David Bryan Mark Puddle

Phoebe Waller-Bridge Director Steve Marmion with the cast of The One for Soho Theatre Vicky Graham

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Don Quixote

December 2nd, 2014 by Helen

Marianela Núñez and Carlos Acosta in Don Quixote

I recently took photos of the Royal Ballet’s beautiful Don Quixote at the Royal Opera House. The ballet is based on an episode from Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, and the choreography has been updated by Carlos Acosta, who also stars along with the fantastic Marianela Nunez. The production has received some excellent reviews and runs until 22nd January.

Carlos Acosta as Basilio  in Don Quixote by the Royal Ballet

Don Quixote

Marianela Núñez and Carlos Acosta in Don Quixote

Marianela Núñez and Carlos Acosta in Don Quixote

Don Quixote

Please click on the thumbnails to see larger images:

Ryoichi Hirano as Espada in Don Quixote by the Royal Ballet Don Quixote Marianela Núñez in Don Quixote

Marianela Núñez and Carlos Acosta in Don Quixote Don Quixote Don Quixote

Don Quixote

 

 

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Matthew Bourne’s Lord of the Flies

July 15th, 2014 by Helen

Lord of the Flies at The Lowry

In April I travelled up to The Lowry in Salford Quays to take production photographs of Matthew Bourne’s Lord of the Flies. The show is based on the dystopian William Golding novel but rather than being set on a desert island takes place in an empty theatre. The show has received rave reviews and rightly so – it is a beautiful production, hauntingly tense with moments of great fun and even greater violence.  The show combines eight professional dancers with 24 new recruits in each city it visits, giving young dancers the opportunity to dance to a professional standard. Upcoming cities include Aberdeen, Cardiff, Liverpool and London and if you happen to be nearby I would thoroughly recommend it.

One of the young cast members runs onto the stage

Sam Archer on the shoulders of the cast

 

Layton Williams and other cast members in Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies

A yong cast member holds a spear

The cast of Lord of the Flies

Danny Reubens and other cast members

 

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Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake

March 27th, 2014 by Helen

Christopher Trenfield as The Swan in Swan Lake

In January I took production photographs for Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake at Sadler’s Wells in London.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

Liam Mower as The Prince, with members the palace staff

Liam Mower was making his debut as The Prince.

Ashley Shaw in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

Ashley Shaw with her axe having just slain the troll.

Liam Mower as The Prince Andy Monaghan in Swan Lake Swan Lake Swan Lake - Swans attacking The Prince

Jamie-Emma McDonald and Christopher Trenfield in Swan Lake The Swans  Iván Delgado del Río PJ Hurst as a swan

To see a large image please double click on the thumbnail.

Tom Clark as a swan in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

Tom Clark as one of the swans.

Liam Mower and Christopher Trenfield as The Prince and The Swan

Liam Mower with Christopher Trenfield as The Swan

The Prince and The Queen

Sara Cormack and Liam Mower in Swan Lake Graham Kotowich, Sara Cormack, Liam Mower,  Carrie Johnson and Tim Hodges. The male Swans Liam Mower and Christopher Trenfield in Swan Lake Katrina Lyndon in Swan Lake

Swan Lake - Christopher Trenfield leaps through the air

The Swans

I cannot recommend Swan Lake highly enough. Liam Mower and Christopher Trenfield were superb as doomed lovers and were supported by an excellent cast including a brilliant Sara Cormack as The Queen. The production is currently on tour across the UK and overseas, and is understandably getting rave reviews.  To buy tickets please take a look at the website.

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Swan Lake rehearsal photographs

December 13th, 2013 by Helen

The Swans

In October I was commissioned to take rehearsal photographs for Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake in East London.

The swans reahersal for Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

The ballet famously features male swans. Watching them rehearse felt like a privileged experience, professional dancers always make the performance appear effortless on stage, but in rehearsal you can see the concentration, expertise and sheer physicality the performance requires. The dancers drip with sweat as they are put through their paces, they gasp for breath as they put their heart and soul into every move. I was sitting at the very front and despite having a camera between me and the action I was surprised by how much the emotions affected me. The swans were so fierce, and the scenes towards the end are so emotional, I felt myself welling up in the final few moments.

Jonathan Ollivier (The Swan) protects Sam Archer's Prince Rehearsals for Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake Luke Jackson rehearsing for Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

Jonathan Ollivier as The Swan and Sam Archer as The Prince

Above, Jonathan Ollivier‘s Swan stands over Sam Archer‘s The Prince.

Sam Archer (The Prince) and Michela Meazza (The Queen)

Michela Meazza (the Queen) holds Sam Archer (the Prince).

I cannot recommend Swan Lake highly enough, it is currently showing at Sadler’s Wells until January 26th when it goes on a national and international tour.

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Romeo and Juliet – National Ballet of Canada

May 31st, 2013 by Helen

Guillaume Côté and Heather Ogden as Romeo and Juliet

In April I photographed the National Ballet of Canada’s Romeo and Juliet at Sadler’s Wells in London. I haven’t previously had the chance to blog the images, but here are a few from the afternoon.

Piotr Stanczyk, Guillaume Côté and Robert Stephen in Romeo and Juliet at Sadler's Wells

Piotr Stanczyk as Mercutio, Guillaume Côté as Romeo and Robert Stephen as Benvolio

Guillaume Côté and Heather Ogden as Romeo and Juliet

Guillaume Côté and Heather Ogden as Romeo and Juliet

Guillaume Côté, Piotr Stanczyk and Robert Stephen in Romeo and Juliet

Heather Ogden and Lorna Geddes Romeo and Juliet - The National Ballet of Canada Romeo and Juliet by the National Ballet of Canada

Sword fighting during a scene from Romeo and Juliet Piotr-Stanczyk is lifted by Guillaume Côté National Ballet of Canada

Please click on the thumbnails to see larger images. The ballet was beautiful and received very good reviews. These photos appeared on the Ballet News website, where you can see more images from the performance. To see more of my ballet work please take a look at the dance area of my website.

Guillaume Côté and Heather Ogden as Romeo and Juliet

Guillaume Côté and Heather Ogden in Romeo and Juliet

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Mikhailovsky Ballet: Multiplicity

April 22nd, 2013 by Helen

Polina Semionova in Multiplicity by the Mikhailovsky Ballet

I blogged recently about Laurencia, which was part of a series of five ballets by the Mikhailovsky Ballet at the London Coliseum. Another of the ballets was Multiplicity: Forms of Silence and Emptiness which was performed a few days later, and here are some photos. There are more on the Ballet News website.

Multiplicity by the Mikhailovsky Ballet at the London Coliseum

Two male dancers performing in Multiplicity

Marat Shemiunov, Sabina-Yapparova and Polina Semionova in Multiplicity Ballet dancers at the London Coliseum A male dancer from the Mikhaiolovsky Ballet

Two dancers move together in the  Nacho Duato ballet Multiplicity Dancers leap through the air Polina Semionova as the Lady in the Mask

The ballet was composed in 1999 by Nacho Duato and combines baroque music with modern choreography. It was dark with stark, directional lighting, which made photography more challenging. But I love modern ballet, it is beautiful to watch and creates striking images. To see large images please click on the thumbnails.

Polina Semionova and Marat Shemiunov in Multiplicity

Polina Semionova
and Marat Shemiunov

The Mikhailovsky Ballet - Multiplicity: Forms of Silence and Emptiness

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Burn the Floor

April 15th, 2013 by Helen

Robbie Kmetoni and other male ensemble dancers

I was asked to provide rehearsal, backstage and production photography for Burn the Floor last month, and here is a small selection of the images I took.

Robin Windsor and Kristina Rihanoff at Pineapple Studios

I started at Pineapple Studios where the cast were rehearsing. Strictly Come Dancing stars Kristina Rihanoff and Robin Windsor are the lead dancers of Burn the Floor and needless to say they looked fantastic going through their moves.

Jemma Armstrong and Santo Costa

Jemma Armstrong and Santo Costa. Please click on the thumbnails to see larger images.

A black and white photo of Karen Hauer rehearsing at Pineapple Studios Rehearsing Burn the Floor at Pineapple Studios Santo Costa rehearsing Burn the Floor

Two dancers leap across the stage during Burn the Floor rehearsals

As well as going to the rehearsal rooms I was also asked to shoot the cast once they got into the Shaftesbury Theatre. Shooting on stage when it isn’t a dress rehearsal has it’s own sets of problems. They were teching the lights, so one moment you would have fantastic stage lighting and the next there would be virtually nothing. But on the plus side you get to see the show unfold in a way that usually isn’t possible in the rehearsal room. I also love the greater access you have than on a dress rehearsal. Here I was stationed in the wings which allowed me to get an angle the audience doesn’t get to see.

Cast members warming up during the rehearsals for 'Burn the Floor' The director of the Show, Jason Gilkison Kevin Clifton holds dance partner Karen Hauer

The show is directed by Jason Gilkison and also stars the lovely Karen Hauer and Kevin Clifton

Rehearsals for Burn the Floor, on stage at the Shaftesbury Theatre

Robin Windsor puts on some make-up before going on stage

I nipped into the dressing rooms before the opening night, and found the remarkably relaxed Robin and Kristina getting ready for the show. I was impressed by just how friendly and down to earth the entire cast were, everyone went out of their way to be helpful and welcoming. If you enjoy Strictly Come Dancing then you will LOVE Burn the Floor. It is a really great night out, with lots of spectacular dancing.

Kristina Rihanoff applies the finishing touches to her make-up

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Mikhailovsky Ballet: Laurencia

April 9th, 2013 by Helen

Natalia Osipova in Laurencia by The Mikhailovsky Ballet

Last week I photographed The Mikhailovsky Ballet performing Laurencia at the London Coliseum.

Olga Semyonova, Andrey Kasyanenko and Alexander Omar in Laurencia

Olga Semyonova, Andrey Kasyanenko and Alexander Omar dance the flamenco with the ensemble.

Natalia Osipova as Laurencia and Ivan Vasiliev as Frondoso

Natalia Osipova was fantastic as the eponymous heroine Laurencia and Frondoso was played by the dynamic Ivan Vasiliev.

Natalia Osipova as Laurencia and Ivan Vasiliev as Frondoso

Ivan Vasiliev as Frondoso Ivan Vailiev as Frondoso and Mikhail Venshchikov as Don Fernan Gomez de Guzman Ballet star Natalia Osipova

Ivan Vasiliev sails through the air as Frondoso Natalia Osipova in Laurencia An emotional moment for Laurencia surrounded by the villagers Mikhail Venshchikov as Don Fernan Gomez de Guzman

Please click on the thumbnails to see larger images.

Laurencia by the Mikhailovsky Ballet at the London Coliseum

Ivan Vasiliev as Frondoso

Natalia Osipova with right arm aloft in the final moments of the ballet

The Mikhailovsky Ballet were in London until the 7th April performing several different works. These photos were used on the Ballet News website where you can read a review of the show. To see more of my images please take a look at the dance photography section of my website.

 

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Open auditions for A Chorus Line

March 7th, 2013 by Helen

Dancers being put through their paces for the open auditions for A Chorus Line in London

A Chorus Line has recently opened in London to great reviews so I thought I would blog a few of my images from October. The production held open auditions for the cast and around a thousand people queued up for an opportunity to join the cast.

A black and white photo of dancers warming up at the London Palladium

The queue for the open auditions of A Chorus Line A dancer hugs her friend when she hears she has got through to the next round Looking out into the auditorium at the London Palladium

Click on the thumbnails to see larger images. It was a two-day audition process. I was just there for the first day, but was able to get on stage and get behind the scenes to capture the whole process. Auditions are by definition pretty brutal experiences – especially if there are a thousand of you applying for a few places, but the team, led by original cast member Baayork Lee did their best to lessen the impact. I went to see the show last week and thought it was excellent, the cast were brilliant and it was a great night out.

Dancers on stage at the London Palladium auditioning for 'A Chorus Line'

 

 

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