Dance is fleeting - a passing moment in time. With photography, however, it can be captured and fixed in another form. But while photography can freeze a movement, photographer Niv Novak has gone a step further. Using a special, slow motion but high definition camera that turns one second of movement into 40, he slows the moment down rather than turns it still. With this technique, somewhere between photography and film, even the fastest movements can be examined and relished in the finest, close-up detail – every tiny flicker elongated into a poetic flow of muscle and tissue, every nuance caressed with the camera’s eye.
That is the experience one has in watching his one-hour film, Missed Nuance, an hour-long continuous flow of slow-motion photography, with dancers as his models. They rise into the air or pirouette, but with all speed and effort removed by the slowness of the film, highlighting the beauty and harmony of every fraction of the movement. The effect is also of weightlessness, as if the dancers are underwater.
Novak is a business man who has had the good fortune to be able to retire young and pursue his interests. He brought together classical dancers Australian and overseas dancers with a number of local fashion designers and other creatives and financed the whole thing himself. The whole "passion project", as he calls it, took two years and features dancers from The Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Theatre, England's Royal Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Queensland Ballet and Victoria's Projection Dance. Australian Ballet principals Chengwu Guo and Ako Kondo were advisors.
Each dancer is costumed by leading Australian fashion designers and couturiers including Akira Isogawa, Jason Grech, Con Ilio, Belinda Pieris, Robyn Black, Gwendolynne and Georgia Chapman, with all being curated by costume designer Belinda Pieris. The movement of the costumes extends and amplifies the movement of the dancers. The film features original music Novak commissioned from Melbourne-based composer Troy Rogan.
Missed Nuance was launched on the big screen at the Rivoli Cinema in Melbourne in October with an introduction by David McAllister, the artistic director of the Australian Ballet. It is now available on itunes in 4K: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/missed-nuance/id1482270321