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Kaw Valley Arts and Humanities Art Opening
8 July 2011 -

With works by: Rita Blitt and Mike Strong

Gallery at: 756 Armstrong in Kansas City, Ks., 66101
Org: 901 North 8th Street, Kansas City, KS 66101-2706, (913) 371-0024
In partnership with City in Motion:

View related City in Motion pages on kcdance

Cindy Bleck, dancer - art by Rita Blitt and video on the table from Rita Blitt

Cindy Bleck (foreground), Nicole, Zoe, Ada

Nicole English dancing. art by Mike Strong at left and end of hall, by Rita Blitt at back of room and on the right. Watching: Ada and Taryn.

Vistors looking at the display. In back Nicole English with Joe Faus, one of the resident Kaw Valley artists.

Unless otherwise noted photos and copyright 2020 Mike Strong KCDance.Com and Mike Strong Photo Gallery and CV Site - Email This Page

The KC Kansan newspaper building. The lighted windows are Kaw Valley Arts and Humanities. One person is standing at the door.

Kaw Valley Arts and Humanities is in the old Kansas City Kansan Newspaper building on the ground floor and the floor below with artists' areas. The newspaper is now a website only ( but the building is still as solid and precise as ever on a corner of downtown KCK with the name of the newspaper still across the top of the building.

Regina Compernolle, City in Motion's school director, said that City in Motion would be having a display and art auction (two actually) with donated works from artist Rita Blitt. She asked whether I would like to contribute some works and I said yes.

I managed to drop off my pictures for the exhibit a few days before they were to go over to the location and then the night before, I dropped off a number of other pictures. These included some studies I had put together for demonstration so that people could not only see my pictures but also get an idea of what goes into dance pictures. These are neither a version of concert pictures nor a version of motion photography. Those are common assumptions when people approach dance with a camera. Until I got into dance. starting with ballroom, those were also my assumptions.

However, to shoot dance you need to start with dance, not with photography. Photography imposes a style which tends to ignore or obliterate the content, form and expression of dance. Rules and expectations of composition (tight, tight and tighter, partial person, cutoff bodies, etc.) ignore or push aside choreography, space for dance, the whole dancer and essentially everything a dancer does as well as the content of the work.

If you are a photography and you want to shoot dance, learn to dance. If you are a dancer and you want to shoot dance, learn the camera but think as a dancer when you shoot.

At the opening three dancers performed, Taryn Todd, Nicole English and Cindy Bleck. Others joined in. It is a small space in an L-shaped former entrance or lobby just inside the door (in the picture above). My pictures were across the west side and Rita Blitt's works were on the east side (to the right on entering the door). She also had a video of her work and video showing her working with both David Parsons and Lois Greenfield.

We also had a chance to visit the artists' individual working booths on the lower floor, We walked to the back, made a right turn down the hall and then down a flight of stairs (you can see the top of the stairs in the second window to the right of the door in the building picture above). There was a world of enclosed areas, each rented by an artist as a working space.

There was a regular run of visitors for the evening, never a crowd but never empty.

The show was to run a month, until just in to August.

Tarynn, Regina, Zoe, Ada, Nicole and guests

From City in Motion's Press Release:

Kaw Valley Arts and Humanities in partnership with City in Motion Dance Theater is proud to announce our gallery showing of the lyrical paints of world renowned artist Rita Blitt.

Rita Blitt is known for capturing movement on paper. Using two paint brushes she literally dances with her hands as she listens to music. During these performances on paper Rita spontaneously expresses her creativity on paper or canvas. Many of these “dances” are later made into large outdoor sculptures.

Rita Blitt is native to Metropolitan Kansas City, Kansas and is perhaps better known for her large outdoor sculptures many of which can be found around the Kansas City area. Her story and work can be viewed at .

City in Motion Dance Theater is the honored recipient of eight of these works, which will be on display, viewable by appointment at Kaw Valley Arts from July 8 th through 25 th .

The opening event will be held July 8 th from 5-8pm.  The event will kick off an auction of the works which will culminate in a final auction at City in Motion in November of this year. The July event will feature a video presentation of Rita Blitt and modern dancers from City in Motion.

Also being exhibited is the dance photography of local artist Mike Strong. Mike is known for his ability to capture movement on paper through photography. Mike has said he takes his photos by listening to the music. Waiting for the crescendos and timing with the music to snap his shots rather than using his eyes to see the movement, he captures the elusive surprise moments in time. Mike has worked with a wide variety of local dance groups. His work can be viewed at

Regina Compernolle
School Director
City in Motion Dance Theater, Inc.
3925 Main Street
KCMO 64111

Nicole English and Cindy Bleck performing: at right Regina and Zoe. Rita Blitt art work on the east wall (to the left)

Cindy Bleck and Nicole English dancing

Cindy Bleck and Nicole English dancing

Taryn Todd

Nicole English and Regina Compernolle

A small visitor dances to photos

JoAnne and Don Lipovac talking with Nicole English

Taryn Todd and Nicole English
A few sample pictures from me shown at the exhibit
These first four are studies which were included in the exhibit

From the KC Ethnic fair a couple of years ago. These are three successive shots as the dancer makes three successive hops on one foot getting consistently to the same position at the top of each hop. Look closely and you will confirm that this is not the same shot printed three times. Look at the background behind and below her skirt.

This study illustrates the need for timing and knowledge of the piece (a lot of rehearsals)
On the right are four successive camera frames from the UMKC spring concert performance of Antony Tudor's Dark Elegies. On the left is the same spot in the same piece two months later during the CORPS de Ballet conference in KC introduting the Tudor Curriculum.
Link to CORPS conference: CORPS_Tudor_June2011.asp

Once again, I shot exactly four frames to capture the four successive jetes show here. The filenames / frame numbers are under each frame. This is to counter what I see a lot from media photographers who show up to shoot dance. They tend to shoot with a motor drive, hoping that they will get a usable picture if they use a "spray and pray" method. They won't and that reflects a lack of knowledge when they come to the dance they mean to shoot.

Another set from the CORPS de Ballet conference in these Tudor workshop pictures at KC Ballet studios during two run throughs of Offenbach in the "can can" number.Going top to bottom and left to right the first three are the first run followed by the second run. There are three places in that piece with the same poses. Here you can see the consistency you get when you know when to shoot. (lesson, never, never, never set your camera to the "C" (for continuous) shooting mode.

Just because you camera is able to shoot 3, 6 or 7 frames per second by pressing the shutter button and holding it down should not impress you or compel you to shoot that way. The only thing that technical spec should do for a dance (or any other) photographer is to produce a camera which shoots right away every time you press the shutter button (no holding it down).

Here Jessica Brown performs a series of fouettes June 18, 2011 for the American Youth Ballet. Jessica and Adam Still (shown in a couple of these) were a few of the veterans brought in the the summer intensive to dance with the young ballet students. All of these frames are exactly as they came from the camera (except for the cropping to fit them together more closely) with no missing frames. There are some missing fouettes however, as the camera memory got behind a couple of times and I had to wait until I could shoot again. I'm sure I counted at least 32 whip turns and thought I had missed some of the count trying to get the camera back in the game. Others, however, counted out 32, a traditional number. I should note that this kind of piece is like a little game where everyone counts the rotations.

In either case, this is an illustration of shooting in a consistent way at the max relevé in her turn. Even so, only a couple of these are good to use.

Some of the actual pictures below

Shot from studio rehearsal at American Dance Center in Overland Park for their June concert at JCCC Wide angle lens (11 mm) with a darker version enclosing the viewable version. .

Whitney Boyd dancing on Cinco de Mayo at Guadelupe Centers for El Grupo Atotonilco Folklorico

Crossroads Ballet

Soundz of Africa at Traditional Music Society showcase

Olé Flamenco opening act outside at Lyric Theater for performance of Carmen

City in Motion at the GEM Theater 4/13/2007
(L-R) Amanda January, Tracie Davis and Stephanie Whittler

Dance in the Park 2008 - Dancers from "Reach ... a movement collective"

L-R foreground: Bobbi Foudree, Kat Kimmitz, L-R behind: Maggie Osgood, Stephanie Whittler

Saudi male students dancing at UMKC student Culture Night festivities and show 16 October 2010


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Kaw Valley Arts Opening: Rita Blitt, Mike Strong
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