Sunday, July 31, 2011

Luminarium meets Jordan Matter... aka a Gorgeous Photo Opp!

On June 21 and 22, we had the great opportunity to collaborate with Jordan Matter (a NYC based photographer) and his Dancers Among Us project.  The project focuses on finding dancers in moments of movements set within everyday life.  With tons of national and international attention already, the project had used dancers of outstanding caliber from organizations both large and small, and we were ecstatic to be involved.  While nervous about the weather holding out for the limited time Jordan was in town, Louise, Mark and I got in the car and blindly embarked on a photographic adventure!  

The following photos are just a few candids I was able to capture on my phone amidst Mark being impaled by a pickax and trying to direct some traffic...

Louise and Mark in the backseat, as we drive around Dover, MA!  We weren't sure what to expect, and there was a pickax in the front seat...
Mark and Jordan review the photos, and figure out what to change.

After commandeering someone's driveway (and someone else's farm), Jordan shoots Mark while he jumps off of a fence, carrying the aforementioned pickax!

While I got to drive the getaway car and watch Jordan's creative process merge with the dancers' talents, below are Mark and Louise's experience from their own points-of-view.  Even better... we are thrilled to present the final images- Luminarium's small portion of the Dancers Among Us Project.




Mark's Dancers Among Us Experience

Its one thing to schedule a photo shoot in the pouring rain.  It is quite another to greet your formerly unknown photographer while he carries a pickaxe and asks you to drive into backwoods farms where no one is the pouring rain.  It wasn't that I was scared, but I think that unnerved would be a good word for it.  As Kim drove us through winding roads, Jordan Matter's head would bob around, almost like a crow looking for the right shiny object for his nest.  Suddenly he would ask her to stop and then he was out the door, exploring for the right setting for his shots.  Using just such a technique 
Jordan found an all white farm with deep green fields, gravel driveways, and a white fence.  This was it.  First we tried various t-shirt and ball-cap color combinations and when it was just right, he asked me to soak both the shirt and the hat in a nearby puddle to emphasize the rain.  (Did you remember that it was pouring rain this whole time? Just checking.)  Then we practiced.  Jordan had asked what my strength in dance was and I answered inversions.  And while inversions may be my strength, inversions with a pickaxe are not.  So we moved on to another one of my strengths:  jumps.  Jordan asked me to climb the fence, sling the pickaxe over my shoulder, leap from the fence, and maintain a calm demeanor as if I were strolling off to work in the field.  The first attempt told us this was exactly the shot he was looking for.  Landing the first attempt explained the physics of momentum, levers, pickaxes, and spines.  More plainly, as I landed the first jump, the pickaxe acted as a lever on my shoulder and crashed into my spine.  Luckily the pointed end of the pickaxe as quite dull and only resulted in a bruise.  After taking a few moments to regain my sanity, I remounted the fence leaped once again, this time releasing the pickaxe just before impact so it fell to my side.  This process was repeated nigh on fifteen or so times until we got the perfect shot with the perfect framing.  Jordan turned out to be a very kind, if eccentric, guy who truly has a talented eye, particularly for environment.  Just the guy for a rainy day photo shoot.


Louise's Dancers Among Us Experience

            After having tagged along for Mark’s photo shoot the day before, where I witnessed the semi-dangerous, repeated act of Mark jumping off the side of fence, in the rain, with a pickax in one hand with the other hand in his pocket, I didn't really know what to expect for my photo shoot with Jordan Matter.  But Mark’s photo had turned out excellently so I was eager for my turn.  We weren't sure if it was even going to happen, seeing as it was yet another rainy day, but ultimately I wanted to take the chance because it was Jordan’s last day in the Boston area.  He seemed like a pretty spontaneous person, giving just a moment’s notice and ready to go for it even if it was a long shot.  So I too decided to take a gamble on the rain.  He had two shots in mind: one in front of a beautiful farm and one...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy First Birthday... and more!

Blowing out the candles to one year of dance!

With the arrival of Luminarium's very first anniversary, we decided to throw the Sponsor Benefit Gala - an event that would serve as a birthday party, a fundraiser, and to say thanks to our sponsors. Generously hosted by AKA Bistro (owner Christian Touche) in Lincoln, MA, the celebration was well attended and very well received. Our guests enjoyed passed hors d'oeuvres and live jazz (many thanks to Jenn Allen, Alex Baboian, and Aaron Liao from Berklee College of Music), chocolate covered strawberries, and birthday cake!  A very successful silent auction featured items such as a gift basket of gourmet chocolates, a professional photoshoot/graphic design work, a pet portrait sitting, a gift certificate to Madison Floral of Somerville MA, handcrafted jewelry, and more! We cannot wait to have another anniversary extravaganza in 2012, mark your calendars!

On a more personal note, both Merli and myself are beyond words with celebrating our first year. We have had 2 of our own fully-produced concerts, shown work in performances at the Boston Center for the Arts, Mount Holyoke College, the Williston School in Easthampton, MA (with Nataraj Dancers), and at the Dance for World Community Festival in Harvard Square. We completed a successful community outreach project with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, took part in a nationally-acclaimed artistic photoshoot, and so much more. All while becoming a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, holding two auditions, fundraising and (oh yeah!) forming an entire dance company from scratch! While we take what we have done and where we are at for granted, upon inspection this is truly quite amazing. What I believe has propelled us so far and so fast is having our company carried on a solid partnership. It is wonderful to be half of a team that is equally motivated and thorough (and of course it helps having similar lofty goals and dreams). What is a bit scary is the thought and task of keeping our momentum strong over the next year, and beyond of course. We accomplished so much in so little time, the thought of where a continued pace could lead is both nerve-wrecking and fantastic. For now, we are looking forward to the Seacoast Fringe Festival in Portsmouth, NH in October, to our Year End Concert in Cambridge in November, to the official word from the IRS on our nonprofit status, and of course to the creation of innovative new work! Believe it or not, it is already time to start creating material and looking for performance opportunities for next season!


Below are photos of the Gala, and parts one and two of the video shown at the event. These videos provide brief clips of all of our performances over the past year!
All photos were taken by the talented Julia Wagner. View her portfolio here:

The company! l. to r. - Chritin Collins, Amyko Ishizaki, Louise Layman, Kimberleigh A. Holman, Meghan Riling,
Merli V. Guerra, Dahne Ledford, Jess Jacob, Mark Kranz and Guest Performer Amy Mastrangelo.
Unable to attend: Guest Performers Lori Celeste, Melenie Diarbekirian, Jarid Polite and Anna Reyes.
Guests were instantly greeted with the sounds of live music...

...the sounds of chatting...
...and laughter!
Guests enjoying the opportunity to mingle with company members.
Rekindling connections from the past-
-and making connections for the future.
Merli discusses the wonderful connections that can be made through the Mount Holyoke College Alumni network with MHC alum (and Luminarium lawyer) Freya Shoffner.
Sponsors, artists and community members of all ages  joined us for a festive night!
Our incredible host, and the owner of AKA Bistro of Lincoln, Christian Touche. Many thanks to everyone at his restaurant for making our evening unforgettable.
Drinks, laughs, and our film on the wall...
Company members Meghan Riling and Amyko Ishizaki (l. to r.) enjoying a drink inside.
Friends and Sponsors 
Family and Artists
l. to r. - Company Members Mark Kranz, Jess Jacob, K. Louise Layman, Christin Collins, and Amyko Ishizaki welcome the Artistic Directors as they enter to thank the crowd.

Kim and Merli thank their company, sponsors, family and friends, and reflect on their first year running the company together with humor and introspection.
The candles are lit!
Kim & Merli blow them out...
...and everyone enjoys cake!
Thus ends Year One. If you haven't yet, please help us improve and enhance Year Two by leaving us a comment below, in the comment box on our website, or by emailing us directly at

Thank you!