Before This

Last week I had the chance to photograph one of the final rehearsals for Before This created by Lee Brummer and cast. No stage lights, and no costumes — a raw look at the process, which was really fun to see. They had marked off a square approximately eight by eight meters in the centre as the stage, which left me space all around to move and take pictures from different directions.

I watched them dance, and to me it felt like they were telling a story about communication and trying to connect with others. One dancer would start hitting herself on the chest, the other would stop her, then start hitting herself on the chest, before the first dancer would stop her and start beating her own chest. This rhythmic beating repeated, but after a while they started to beat together in rhythm and the theme developed and returned at different points in the piece, like a motif.

Later two dancers started with a couple of sequences of movement, before repeating and adding a third part, then repeat from the start and then adding a fourth part. It was as if they were showing the process of creating, adding a little step by step, then repeating from the beginning.

There were more little stories weaved into the dance, about relationships and seeking, and much more. It was fascinating to see how they were able to creatively communicate their stories without using any words. They premiered this past Saturday, and are today playing in Stockholm and then continuing to Göteborg and other cities, see ilYoung’s web page for more information.

Choreographer: Lee Brummer
Dancers and co-creators: Jennifer Wallén, Emilia Fridholm, Isabella Khanamidi, Selina Koch, Malva Sanner and Hadar Mazza Reshef.

I shot the first part of the rehearsal with my 80 mm tilt-shift lens, which allowed me to change the direction focusing plane. This let me make for example the lower part of the image in focus, while the top part was left blurry. That way I could direct the attention of the viewer to different parts of the image.

For the run through of the piece I shifted to my trusty old 50mm lens with auto-focus, as I instead wanted to focus on following the dancers and did not really have time to worry about the manual focus of the tilt-shift lens and the focusing plane’s direction.

Many thanks to Lee Brummer and the cast for inviting me to come photograph their rehearsal!

Instagram: Lee, ilDance,, Jennifer, Emilia

— Johannes

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