A couple of weeks back, a few days after arriving here in Quesnel, British Columbia, I attended a “gala” at the local high school. Back home in South Africa a gala is something you do at a swimming pool. But not here. Here it is a social event, involving entertainment and special performances – in this particular case, dance.
The local dance school was having its end of year performance, where all the dancers were to showcase what they had learnt; the carefully-choreographed moves they had been working on since last year September (or so). I went to watch the two girls who have adopted me as their pseudo uncle.
“Ask your dance teacher if I can go through and take pics at your final rehearsal,” I asked the elder of the two. The instructor’s answer was a resounding “no”. Apparently she had hired a professional photographer and was worried that I would encroach on said photographer’s creative space and would also somehow prevent her from making as much money from the parents as she could if I wasn’t there …
“Oh well,” I shrugged, not understanding her logic entirely. “I guess it’ll be at the actual event then.”
We had paid $15 each for the tickets and found place up in the bleachers – in the same row as the pro, as it turned out.
“Please refrain from flash photography,” the mystery announcer nasally intoned several times over the public address system, “as it will disturb the dancers.”
“No problem,” I thought again. “One doesn’t really shoot this type of performance with a flash anyway …”
The music wafted from the stage, the first little ballerinas wandered out and took up their positions and … the professional started shooting. With machine gun bursts to my right. My fight or flight response saw me dive behind my camera bag, thinking we might be under attack from a maniac intent on wiping out the town’s dance talent in one fell swoop.
Once I’d recovered from the initial shock and was breathing normally again, I took a few photos of the little dancers. The pro’s rapid-fire photography continued as fast as her memory cards could buffer. Rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat, she fired away in time with the musical beat, and out of time with it … I tried her technique but my camera froze after just a couple of shots. “How is she aiming and framing these photos,” I thought to myself. “She’s a genius! It’s fortunate she’s not a hunter; nothing would survive,” I continued musing.
But, to be honest, as the show progressed, I just became more and more irritated. Pfffff – flash photography may have bugged the dancers, but the incessant shutter salvoes were driving me over the edge.
I took a fair number of photos. My conservative estimate is that she took at least 4000 … It turns out she wasn’t actually framing anything, but was simply mowing down whatever moved on stage; no zooming in; no careful aiming down the sights of her high-powered, heavy weapon. Photos would be edited and cropped later, as required, her website explained.
The following day one of the dance teachers had the gall to complain to the elder of my two pseudo nieces about me taking photos at the gala. “I hope he only took photos of the two of you,” (or something along those lines) she said accusingly.
Clearly, I hadn’t. After all, I have a duty to report back to you, my loyal readers, about my ongoing perambulatory promenade through the People’s Republic of Canuckistan! And so, without further ado, here’s my non-professional take on real life in Quesnel. At a dance gala. Held on 7 June in the year of our Lord 2013 …
(Please click on images for bigger versions).