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Dancers on Mangawhai Beach

Every November I get to go along to photograph the DancEnergy end-of-year performance. It's an amazing showcase of all the hard work, joy, and tears that the young dancers (and their wonderful teacher) have put into doing what they love. It's a great show enjoyed by many.

And yet, from a photography perspective it's bloody hard work! Photographing 100 child dancers as their flustered mums try to hustle them into costumes, paint faces and make sure little Janey doesn't spill food on her tutu is not an easy undertaking. Trying to fit in individual and group shots amidst all the chaos requires determination, coordination and a whole lot of focus on my part. And yet I love it. I love the behind the scenes photos, the girls tying up their ballet laces, the mountains of froufrou tutus all brightly lit, the concentration on the mums faces as they facepaint yet another wriggling 6 year old. I love the challenge, the excitement and the anticipation.

And although I enjoy the performances, I find photographing them extremely frustrating. The lighting is tricky, I can't move around the stage for fear of annoying the audience. It's all over pretty quickly and the next dance is already beginning, before I've had time to suss out the best shots.

And so this year I decided to that I would do a wee bit extra. I invited the two leading dancers to the beach one damp and dreary evening. And then I got them to dance and jump and leap and pirouette. Again and again until the light had finally given up and I was sure we had some lovely shots.

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