Theatrical Dance performance

Blog May 2011

The opportunity to collaborate with choreographer Barry Moreland and WA Ballet principle dancer, Daryl Brandwood on Helix has been such a unique convergence for me as cinematographer.

There have been so many moments of joy we captured through the lens to contribute to the overall performance, which opens this June at the State Theatre Centre in Perth.


As a cinematographer, the collaboration between choreographer Barry Moreland and dancer Daryl Brandwood has been refreshing and inspiring. The power of the images we have created for Helix has come about through freedom in some respects, to challenge the way we look at a dancers body, and study it intimately.

The collaborative nature of this project, has given me the opportunity to approach filmmaking from a refreshing POV. Our approach, which is not unlike the way an artist might study form before attempting to illustrate it, was to look at the body with the dancers creed in mind (…that each performance the dancer gives his/her body to the audience) and shape the imagery to suit that. We used light in a way that accentuated the power and drama of Daryl’s movements, used lenses and composition to focus the attention of the viewer and at times approached Daryl’s body like a landscape and let the lens track over it. Given we have one of the countries elite performers in Daz, he has made capturing the images a joy.


For Helix pre-production, Barry and I discussed at length sources of inspiration. From Caravaggio to Vesalius and this helped shape out choice of format and cameras to acquire our images. After a test shoot with DSLR technology it was obvious that the results from Canon 5D Mk2 were exactly what we were looking for.

We have used a combination of formats and cameras to acquire the footage but everywhere we turned there was something magic we could capture, whether it be in a black box studio or on location. We utilised the RED One camera to capture high-speed shots of Daryl underwater and airborne at 120 frames per second. It was a fantastic tool to enable us to capture Daryl’s movement from a very different photographic perspective.


Shooting helix has been one of the most rewarding projects I have had the pleasure of contributing on, and I think it’s a testament to the successful collaboration between a group of dedicated and talented artists.  May 2011