The Dance Hall


My son and I took dance lessons from Dean Paton a couple of years ago at Century Ballroom in Seattle (highly recommended, by the way).  Sometimes, on the weekend, I would attend dances there and photograph from the sidelines.  One of those evenings, while standing at the bottom of a stairway leading to the balcony, I looked up and noticed a woman and a man walking up the stairs.  Several things caught my eye…the swing of her dress, her upswept hair, his blazer, hat and thick, black glasses.  Suddenly, he paused and turned to look back.  Bam!  There was the moment.  I lifted my camera to my eye, praying he would linger exactly as he was, long enough for me to capture what I saw in my mind’s eye.  His pause allowed for one frame, one chance to capture what I saw and felt.  It’s one of my favorite photographs.  I love the lines and the feeling of a mysterious scene from an old black and white movie.

Photographs can hold a world of possibilities.  So many narratives could be imagined and written about one moment.  Are they together or strangers?  Partners, or did they just share a first dance?  Perhaps they’ve never spoken a word to one another.  Why did he turn back?  What has captured his lingering gaze…a beautiful woman? a handsome man? a couple dancing? an interaction that interests him?  There are many possibilities.  Whatever the real story is, I love this moment.  It is an example of what I love most about photography, that it provides the ability to document a moment in time that will never happen again.

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