Dancing with G-nie

Dancing with G-nie

All together now: Dawna, Rudy, Gerardo and Katherine interconnected for a group shot. Photo by G-nie Arambulo

Dancers in motion are possibly among the most difficult subjects to photograph. But it’s precisely getting to capture their movement through her camera that challenges award-winning advertising photographer G-nie Arambulo.

Rudy De Dios: In flight. Photo by G-nie Arambulo

In her spare time, G-nie enjoys thinking up of concepts that she can collaborate on with dancers. Recently, she was able to schedule a pictorial with four Ballet Manila company artists to execute the latest installment in her personal pet project.

The dancers – Rudy De Dios, Dawna Reign Mangahas, Gerardo Francisco and Katherine Barkman – each took their turn before the camera, doing a pre-arranged set of steps as advised by BM assistant rehearsal master Jonathan Janolo. They also gathered for an unconventional group picture.

Dawna Reign Mangahas: Seeing double. Photo by G-nie Arambulo

For the solo shots, G-nie used available lights and a flash technique to seemingly track the dancer’s movements which appear in a blur, until each one reaches an end point – seen as a clear, still image of the dancer obviously in motion.

“It’s one frame, one continuous exposure,” notes G-nie who is grateful that her boss and mentor, John Chua, allows her to use the Adphoto studio for her “experiments.”

Ballet Manila artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde with G-nie Arambulo after interviewing the photographer for an episode of Art 2 Art

In fact, Mr. Chua even posted the results of the recent pictorial on his Facebook account, saying how proud he is that G-nie can execute an idea which she had been practicing for weeks.

Explaining the technical aspect in greater detail, G-nie adds, “In the beginning, I tried the ‘rear curtain sync,’ meaning the shutter opens up first with continuous light at low speed, then high-speed electronic flash fires, all in manual mode. But to consider the best timing for the pose, I need to turn off the sync and manually trigger the remote to match the pose needed. It’s all about timing.”

Indeed, it was a painstaking process where the dancer had to perform his or her routine repeatedly, until the image that comes out is satisfactory to both dancer and photographer.

Gerardo Francisco: Jump shot. Photo by G-nie Arambulo

G-nie first worked with Ballet Manila in 2002. The results from those sessions were showcased in a digital photography exhibit titled Dance With Me, held in line with the inauguration of the Aliw Theater at the CCP Complex. Some of the images she took then of BM artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde were also later featured in the latter’s book, Ballerina of the People.

Katherine Barkman: On pointe. Photo by G-nie Arambulo

G-nie is looking forward to more collaborative sessions with Ballet Manila this year, as she is still brimming with other ideas revolving on dancers.

“This is something I can really call my own. It’s doing photography purely for art.”

Behind the scenes, Katherine Barkman (right) waits to execute her routine as photographer G-nie Arambulo (seated, center) confers with her staff. 

Rebel: Rudy De Dios as Benigno Aquino Jr.

Rebel: Rudy De Dios as Benigno Aquino Jr.

Flashback to a competition

Flashback to a competition