Blurring Dance Motions


A sense of dynamics is achieved through the motion of the dancer. Photograph/Frizzy Van Fritz

Carry a Monopod

Capturing motion blurs of dancers often requires parts of your frame to be perfectly still for impact. This can be achieved with the help of a monopod. The monopod will also help you maintain the position of dancers in your frame during longer exposure times, when you use slower shutterspeed. This will also allow you to keep certain parts of the dancer’s body intact whereas the rest will be blurred.

Position Yourself for Clean Backgrounds

The background will blend in with the blurred outlines of the dancers which makes it a key element in this process. Plain backgrounds with minimal colour combinations ideally work best. Logos, banners and written text are distracting elements as they will reduce your focus from the dancer. Therefore, it is essential that you pre-determine your position for ideal captures. Standing at the sides of the stage usually helps avoid these elements and obtain a clean background.

Plain black background in the photograph along with focused lighting shifts the attention to the dancers. Photograph/Dino Ahmed Ali

Anticipate the Motion of a Dancer

Be it salsa, jazz, tango, kathak, waltz or Bharatnatyam, all dances are varied in their styles. Each kind of dance has its own rhythm and pace. It is important for you to understand the dancer’s beat and tempo. This can be done after you carefully analyse the high and low points present in a dance style. This will guide you to capture the moment at the right time. Anticipation is the key which comes with careful observation and keen interest.

The motion blur in this photograph has added a sense of movement and power. Certain parts of the bodies of dancers are focused. Photograph/Benjamin Von Wong

Capture the Pauses

If you think dancing is all about movement, you have not understood the art form. A lot of dancing styles are built on pauses which are succeeded by high, dramatic movements. Instead of capturing those movements, try to capture the pauses in your blurs which will be the only time you can get still faces of the dancers. Building your photographs on the basis of these pauses will also add a feel of subtlety and vibrancy.