A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

I photographed modern dancer Alvin Erasga Tolentino many years ago and he was but the background to a photograph of Grant Strate and Kathryn Ricketts here. But I finally got to photograph this talented dancer all by himself last Sunday for the Georgia Straight. I have a particular kinship to Tolentino because of his Filipino heritage which is something I share. My mother was born in Manila. I am familiar with the language, the food, the customs and I have long enjoyed watching Filipino folkloric dancers.

It has been exciting to watch those Filipino skills shine in modern dance. Tolentino has a particular talent of ending most dance either in a skirt or with nothing on! I had all the intention of getting him to take it all off and using light and shadow to hide the parts so that my photograph would meet the decency standards of the Straight. But Tolentino gently reminded me that his current work Paradis/Paradise is dedicated to one of his contributors Larisa Fayad who recently died in an accident in Asia. Something with an Asian connections was to be more appropriate and I agreed.

We took a few Polaroids and soon the picture (10 of them) were in the can. I remembered my grandmother who used to tell me, "There are no more graceful hands than the hands of a Filipino dancer." She was right.


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