By Olivia Flores Alvarez
Gabriella Nissen got a lesson in ballet when she set up a backdrop for a photo shoot of Dominic Walsh.
“I thought it was high enough; it went up way over the dancers’ heads,” she tells us. “[A dancer] walked by and I asked him if it was high enough. He looked at it and said, ‘Oh no. You’ll need to go up three more feet.’ I thought, ‘You’re kidding, right?’ He wasn’t. I had no idea dancers jumped that high or did all of the amazing things they do.”
The experience is one of many Nissen recounted as she discussed the new photography book Dominic Walsh Dance Theater. A joint project with Walsh as writer and Nissen as designer, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater is being launched at a reception at the Deborah Colton Gallery.
Nissen has been photographing Walsh and his dance troupe since 2007. Over the past eight years, she’s amassed thousands of images. And, of course, she wasn’t the only photographer working with Walsh. When she and Walsh decided to put together a retrospective of the company, she asked other photographers to contribute.
“When you’re doing something that’s not just your work, you have to step out of yourself a little bit. This book wasn’t about me and my photography; it’s about Dominic and his dancers. I wasn’t the only photographer who had part of that story to tell.
“Dominic and I looked through thousands and thousands of images for the book. It was much more difficult to put together than I would have thought originally. But putting the images together wasn’t the end. Now we have to promote it and make sure people know about it.”
And in some ways, this is the hard part, she tells us. “I’m really shy about promoting myself and doing all of this web stuff; it can get to be a bit much. One day, Dominic and I were trying to figure out how to put a link up on Facebook — here we were, he’s this talented dancer [and choreographer], I’ve been a photographer for years and neither one of us knew how to post a link online.”
By Molly Glentzer
Dominic Walsh Dance Theater officially folded this year, but its namesake founder-choreographer revisited the company's milestones with friends on Dec. 12 during a launch party at Deborah Colton Gallery for his retrospective book.
Designed by Gabriella Nissen, one of the Houston photographers who captured the company in its prime, the book recalls a period of intense creativity and provocative collaboration with musicians, museums and internationally known dance talents.
Walsh, a former Houston Ballet principal dancer, founded his company in 2002, and Nissen began documenting it in 2007.
"Dominic always tested the limits and raised the bar, helping those who viewed his performances to think in more open minded, visionary and creative ways, said host Deborah Colton, a long-time company supporter.
The evening included a screening of scenes from Walsh's dance film, "Malto Kano, TX."
Walsh, now a freelance choreographer, has created works recently for Ballet San Antonio, Colorado Ballet, Festival Ballet Providence, Whim W'Him and Asami Maki Ballet.
Among the fans: David and Anita Garten, Jo and Jim Furr, Martha Bourke, Jereann Chaney, Thomas and Anna Au, Denzil and Elise Hollingsworth, Bob and Mariana Debes, Marc and Duyen Nguyen, Mari Omori, Nicola Parente and Sharon and Gus Kopriva.
On Their Toes for Ballet Legend's Hotly Anticipated Book Launch
Since 2002, critically acclaimed Dominic Walsh Dance Theater (DWDT) has charted new territory in the dance world by translating the techniques and skills of classical ballet into a more contemporary realm. In the book Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, Dominic Walsh, founder and artistic director, reflects on his journey leading the company. The core of this book is a collection of photographs capturing some of the incredible moments from the company’s repertoire. Photographer Gabriella Nissen has been documenting DWDT performances since 2007 and as editor of this book Nissen worked with Walsh sorting through thousands of DWDT images by her and fellow photographers to find the brightest gems to highlight the company’s history. Order your book at www.gabriellanissen.com.