"Dance, circus and photography work hand in hand; as dancers and circus workers need photographs of their performances, their training and everything in between–for documentation (history), for publicity, for research, for training purposes, etc. And the photographers need dancers and circus people to be the subject of their work, their art, their stories." Jessie Boylan, RYAP presenter.
The Rotary Youth Arts Project is a cooperative scheme between arts organisations within the City of Yarra, Dancehouse, Westside Circus and Centre for Contemporary Photography. With support from City of Yarra and Rotary, young people in Yarra were invited to participate in a photography workshop.
Participants in the CCP program undertook an intensive seven week course in documentary photography and digital imaging at CCP presented by photographer Jessie Boylan. “Through this course, observes Boylan, “participants became aware of real issues facing the documentary photographer working with real situations, environments and methods of working. It was important for the photographers to realise that what they were doing was just as important for the dancers and circus workers as it was for them. They became aware of issues arising from working with cameras, working with available light, working with real people and within time restraints.”
When participants commenced their course the scene was set for documentary photography at CCP with the Leica/CCP Documentary Photography Award exhibition. Jessie Boylan introduced participants to a further range of current and historical approaches to documentary including some really hard-hitting classic images from photojournalism.
Following a brief introduction to digital photography and their Kodak Easy Share Cameras, participants went straight into the deep end, out into the world to take shots of real people in motion.
Photographers worked with fellow participants in the Dancehouse and Westside Circus programs. With permission from the dancers and circus participants the photographers participated in warm-ups and documented the dance and circus sessions. Photographers faced the hurdles of documentary photography, often working in low light conditions.
In between sessions photographers took home disposable cameras to work with.
In only seven sessions participants worked with Boylan to produce images for exhibition at CCP in the Visy Education Space. Jessie Boylan made exhibition prints with generous assistance from Lab X. CCP staff worked with participants to understand the correct handling of photographs, installation principles and methods. The exhibition presented images taken during the RYAP dance and circus workshops.
At the exhibition launch participating photographers welcomed and thanked the dancers and circus performers.
As author Susan Sontag wrote: "After the event has ended, the picture will still exist, conferring on the event a kind of immortality (and importance) it would never otherwise have enjoyed.”