Capturing Dance Choreography in Cuba

Choreographer and photographer Mickael Marso Riviere tell us about his experience using the X Series while shooting his work in Cuba as well as the culture of Havana.

By Mickael Marso Riviere

Mickael Marso Riviere is a Bboy (break dancer), creative director and choreographer. Being a keen photographer, Mickael enjoys shooting his choreography work, as well as travel photography in locations where his work takes him. In this article he shares his images and experiences using his Fujifilm kit on a recent trip to Cuba.

Since the early days of my touring I have had interest in photography. This quickly became a passion and a parallel activity to my dance related work or travel. I began shooting with film in 2004 and slowly migrated to digital.

I love to create movement and then shoot it against architecture or landscapes, or create a situation and direct the scene to shoot. This is when I can immortalize the moment, controlling every aspect of the picture. Being a choreographer really helps shaping angles and communicating with the dancer.

I bought a FUJIFILM X-E2 late 2015 for my travel and street photography as my Canon camera felt too imposing for street photography. I had been a Canon user since day one but in April this year, after getting my hands on the FUJIFILM X-T2, I have swapped all my Canon kit for Fujifilm. I have retained portability with an amazing performance delivery from my Fujifilm cameras. I feel like it’s given me a second breath of inspiration with photography. I now have no excuse to not shoot during my work, travels or day to day commutes!

Choreography in Cuba

Last November I choreographed a dance for a newly established company run by Ballet dancer and choreographer, Carlos Acosta, in Havana. I had never been to Cuba before and even though the reason I was visiting was for dance work purposes, I always take my camera with me. This is so I can archive my dance work; shooting stills with dancers as well as creating a new collection of photos from the beautiful streets of Havana (and its cultural heritage). I was present during the funeral of Fidel Castro, the air was so emotionally charged, it presented a unique opportunity to shoot and reflect on such an historical time.

I was going to be in Havana for at least 3 weeks so I had to pack efficiently and lightly. My FUJIFILM X-E2 was the ideal camera to take, and I even had plenty of room for the XF18mm f2 and 50mm Fujinon m42 mount f1.8, which I love for manual focus and soft bokeh.

The hands on manual controls, the compact yet robust build with astonishing performance, metal finish and classic look all initially drew me into the X Series cameras. The Wi-Fi capability is perfect for working on the move as it enables me to quickly publish photos to my Instagram account. I was so pleased with the performance of the X-E2 that when the X-T2 came out I jumped on the opportunity to replace my Canon gear with Fujifilm X Series.

The X-T2 is blazing fast for catching movement; focus accuracy still surprises me even two months after first using the camera. It still feels very compact in my hands and in comparison to my old Canon kit, I don’t get any finger or wrist strains after hours of use. Even with the battery grip, it’s so ergonomic that I feel like it’s almost an extension of my body. I often shoot from low angles and the tilting screen is well suited for this too!

Being a dance artist and photographer often means carrying a lot of costumes and recording equipment so being space savvy is vital. Carrying heavy bags in the past has led to shoulder or lower back strains so downsizing my photography gear has been the best move I have made. Mirrorless technology has greatly improved and delivered what I need in size and image quality as most of my work is published online now.

I draw inspiration from all forms of movement, not just dance movement. There’s movement in people talking, movement in water, in the way light sets itself over objects and people casting shadows. I love watching people walking, traffic and how the body responds in different situations. Movement is all around us. I try to catch movement in the reflection of a puddle, the mirror effect on our everyday commute or a delivery man pushing a bike to his next drop-off location.

If I were to share one tip on shooting dancers, I would recommend that you try setting a scene or working with a theme. Dance looks great against architecture or against a plain natural background such as a field. Simple jumps or gestures can often say more on a photograph and shooting from the floor up gives more height to a jump.

A high shutter speed is key to achieving a sharp image, but it’s not always ideal if you want to create the feeling that the movement is very present in the picture. I love Ming Smith’s work for example; blur and grain can create such an authentic feel and more of a fine art look. Shooting wide open on a busy street to isolate your moving subject can create amazing results too.

More from Mickael Marso Riviere





Author: Fujifilm EMEA

This blog account is managed by the Corporate Communication team for Fujifilm in EMEA.

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