Photographer Q&A: A Showcase of Form and Movement

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Ilana Jonas, center, in Seven Eves, choreographed by Claire Hancock for Artifact Dance Project at the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre on May 9, 2009. Photograph by Allison Mullally
  • ALLISON MULLALLY
  • Ilana Jonas, center, in 'Seven Eves', choreographed by Claire Hancock for Artifact Dance Project at the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre on May 9, 2009

In 2008, Canadian transplant Allison Mullally picked up a camera and found a new passion in photography and photojournalism.

Three years later, Mullally has accumulated one of the more impressive portfolios of visualjournalism work at the University of Arizona School of Journalism. In January, Mullally participated in The New York Times Student Journalism Institute in Miami as one of four photographers selected out of scores of candidates from around the country.

But before Miami, Mullally found her vision and her muse photographing dancers from the UA School of Dance.

These photos are among some of the images Mullally photographed in 2009, during a showcase rehearsal she was given access.

Interview by Melanie Tortorello

How did you find dance?

The very first photo class I took here we had to do “A Day In The Life” and I decided to go over to the dance department. I spent the whole day there. They told me to come to the dress rehearsal. When we had to do a dance photo assignment I had to do a biography and so I went back there and asked if they knew someone who would be a good subject. I did a profile on a woman and her dance company. Some of them are students and some are professional dancers.

Tessa Carter, front, performs in Swan Lake Act II, choreographed by James Clouser, during a dress rehearsal Feb. 24, 2009. Photograph by Allison Mullally © 2011
  • ALLISON MULLALLY
  • Tessa Carter, front, performs in Swan Lake Act II, choreographed by James Clouser, during a dress rehearsal Feb. 24, 2009.

What set this shoot apart from your others?

Since it was a dress rehearsal I was allowed to get up right in front. I remember thinking Whoa, no one has ever let me get this close. I could even get on the stage if I wanted or something. Normally you’re only allowed to shoot from the sides or farther away.

I went 2 their classes and was surprised with how much discipline it takes. It takes a lot of physical discipline to succeed in that art form. Sometimes they seem older than their years and I kind of admire that. They spend a lot of time rehearsing, you know like after school. They put a lot of time into their work.

What did u learn as a photographer?

I’d never really picked up a camera before this so I didn’t really know about shutter speeds and stuff. I made so many errors and it was a learning experience. It’s definitely a gratifying subject to photograph because you’re taking pictures of people who put a lot of work into what they’re doing, and it shows.

So it was one of your first shoots-did you feel awkward when you were shooting?

I don’t remember feeling awkward. They made me feel really comfortable, it was definitely more of a relaxed place. I’ve definitely been more uptight on other shoots.

It definitely taught me a lot about just going up and asking, like not worrying about whether they wanted me to. It was kind of a gut feeling I had to go over there that day. I thought music and dance would be a good start.

Dancers Nicholas Torres, far left,  Joshua Carter, Jordan Bradfield and Brendan Rooney perform in Rats! during a dress rehearsal of Premium Blend Feb. 24, 2009. According to the website sponsored by UA Dance,  Rats! was inspired by the Rat Pack of the 50s, and is set to music sung by Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra. Photograph by Allison Mullally © 2011
  • ALLISON MULLALLY
  • Dancers Nicholas Torres, far left, Joshua Carter, Jordan Bradfield and Brendan Rooney perform in Rats! during a dress rehearsal of Premium Blend Feb. 24, 2009. According to the website sponsored by UA Dance, Rats! was inspired by the "Rat Pack" of the 50's, and is set to music sung by Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra.

To view some of Mullally's photographs from Miami, visit the Institute's website.

This semester, Mullally is working on video news through the UA School of Journalism's Arizona Cat's Eye. Their first show will broadcast soon on KUAT.

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