Photograph Columbus

Setting Sail For Parts Unknown
August 21, 2014, 12:09 PM
Filed under: Landmark, media, then and now | Tags: , ,

Santa Maria!

To celebrate the then upcoming Quincentennial of the voyage that changed the world, the city of Columbus commissioned a replica of their namesake’s flagship, the Santa Maria. In 1991, the Scarano Bros. Boat Building Company delivered what Jose Maria Martinez-Hidalgo, a Spanish marine historian, called “…the most authentic replica in the World.”

The ship was christened in October of the same year by Mayor Rinehart and Miss Ohio, the same mayor that pushed through redevelopment of The Short North, The Brewery District, City Center(future post there!), MLK Center and Easton. For the most part, all locations that define what Columbus is today.

photo by Eric Albrecht, DISPATCH

Coronation Day, Oct 1991 photo by Eric Albrecht, DISPATCH

Fast Forward

I first started exploring downtown Columbus with camera in hand around 2006-07.  I can hardly recall a time since that the shore of Battelle Park, home to the floating museum, wasn’t covered in geese, gulls, and a handful of homeless people. I’ve never seen the ship with her sails open, never caught any of the pirate performances, and had always walked or rode by when the “Closed” sign was hanging out front.

seagull next to Santa Maria

The most common visitors. My first known photograph of the Santa Maria, January 2007

It wasn’t until June 2012 that I stepped foot on the ship for the first time. Teen Fiction front man, Bob Dawson, asked me to photograph his set during a private event… a costume party that I wasn’t dressed for. Listen to Teen Fiction on reverbnation.

Panoramic of the Santa Maria, June 2012 by Craig Bortmas

Panoramic of the Santa Maria in action. Private costume party, June 2012

In 2013, the city began waterfront renovations and development. Low head dams were removed at various points along the river, dramatically changing the size and flow of the Scioto. With little to float on, this ‘re-naturalization’ placed the Santa Maria smack in the middle of the $35.5 million project.


I took three days last week, August 13-15, to spend some time with the Santa Maria. I watched as they removed the mast, the cracks of the crow’s nest calling out over the numerous hydraulic earth movers. I sat through clouds of dust being thrown up by numerous trucks and the massive chunks of concrete they were dumping. I spoke with construction workers and other watchers, many of which worked nearby and just came out during lunch. One gentleman claimed “thousands of hours of volunteer time”, and there on the very first day. He was melancholic, and a little pessimistic about the ship’s stated return in 2016.

And why wouldn’t he be? In September 2013, The Dispatch reported that the ship would only be moved to the center of the river during the shoreline’s development. However, the process is already underway in cutting the museum into 10 pieces so that it can be stored and repaired (should the necessary funds become available). What originally cost $1.2 million to build will now cost $1 million to repair.

A true S.O.S for this Columbus landmark, if you would like to learn how you can help save our ship visit



santa maria removal

Development from the lawn of Vets Memorial, whose demolition is slated for November 2014

removal of santa maria from scioto river

Both sides of the Scioto are Construction Zone, and even though there was absolutely nothing going on I was asked to leave this spot shortly before they lifted the ship from the water.

reflection of construction on the scioto river

A brief moment of calm on the surface of the river

removal of santa maria from scioto river

The Santa Maria is hoisted to the shore so that the hole can be filled in.

Writing and Moving
Students stretch after Claire Porter's workshop on Writing and Moving.

Students stretch after Claire Porter’s workshop on Writing and Moving.

To write about someone writing about dance is a little intimidating. Especially when that someone has the breadth of experience of Claire Porter.

Porter takes the term ‘mover and shaker’ and turns it on it’s head. Her bio is thick with the two letter state abbreviations where she has performed and taught. She’s no stranger to Columbus, either, having received her MA in Dance from Ohio State.

Workshop participants first created a body of text, (both individually, then as a group) whereupon movement and gesture were added to accompany those words or syllables.

Participants in Claire Porter's workshop on Writing and Moving assign gestures to words and syllables.

Participants in Claire Porter’s workshop on Writing and Moving assign gestures to words and syllables.

In this audio clip, workshop attendees remix the agreed upon text.


Leigh Lotocki plays with a gesture

Leigh Lotocki plays with a gesture

Workshop participants manipulate their dance partners

Workshop participants manipulate their dance partners

Writing and Moving

Making decisions on the direction

It’s obvious the writing influences the dance in a very direct way, but from my brief exposure to the concept I’m unsure as to whether the same holds true in reverse. If I can’t tell after tomorrow night’s performance, perhaps you’ll see another sound byte straight from the source.

As this blog develops, I’ll be interested in seeing how ‘writing and photography’ change my approach to image making. To date, the pictures have always come first. I’ve really only tried my hand at the editorial style once before. There’s still so much to learn.

The Eyes Have It
July 9, 2014, 1:41 AM
Filed under: dance, discourse, media | Tags: , ,
The Eyes Have It Coco Loupe at Taking Place Columbus

The Eyes Have It

Round 2 at Taking Place Columbus.

Taking Place is a kind of homecoming for guest artist CoCo Loupe. While she currently resides in Baton Rouge, La, CoCo’s legacy from her time in Columbus can still be seen and experienced at Feverhead in Grandview.

During the rehearsal on Fishnetting/Repetition and Composition CoCo often brought up the eyes as additional actors within one’s movement, a sentiment that was also repeated throughout Peter Kyle’s instruction on Slow Tempo.

Coco Loupe provides instruction at Taking Place Columbus

The direction of gaze implies intention

I took a moment to ask CoCo about the parallels between the two classes, and what the eyes mean to her within the context of dance.

CoCo and I have worked on many projects together. My favorite was when I asked if she would be the Sun.
It’s good to see you again.

Surveying movement at Taking Place Columbus

Surveying movement


In the seven years I have been photographing dance I’ve been exposed to a lot of lingo. Given the opportunity to stretch, I might not even hurt myself if I tried to arabesque. However, fishnetting is a term that I have never come across before. Now, I’m a big fan of fishnets, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what this class is about. Let’s just get the description straight from the source…

CoCo demonstrates movement

CoCo demonstrates movement

fishnetting with coco loupe

Fishnetting, Repetition and Composition

Personally, I would love a raw material generator.

Scott at Taking Place

Scott Kaltenbaugh creates his own movement, pulling creative bits from CoCo’s demonstration.

Slow Tempo
slow tempo warm up

Warming up to move slow

The Short North Stage is hosting a dance residency for the first two weeks of July, and the community is encouraged to stop by and participate/spectate/documentate. (I know it’s not a word, but…)

In my first drop-in experience at Taking PLace Columbus I was introduced to Peter Kyle. Peter teaches Slow Tempo, a discipline developed by Japanese theater director Shogo Ohta, best known for his silent plays. The July 13th presentation, the last for the Taking PLace residency, will mark 7 years since Ohta’s passing. Come out to the 11th and 12th performances to see what develops from this methodology.

I recorded the three hour session at 1fps, with video playback at 24fps. Noah Demland was on hand to provide percussive ambience, though for the most part the actions were taken in relative silence. Awareness of the AC units, passing sirens, and a brief but unexpected rainfall spattering on the roof all seemed amplified in the cavernous theatre.

The resulting video was shot as a time lapse. No audio has been added so that it does not compete with the movement.


While the camera was working, I was able to witness some wonderful emotions fight their way out of some of the dancers. As was being taught in the class, sometimes you just have to put the camera down and be in the moment.

taking place rehearsal in Slow Tempo

“Calm the eyes, it reveals a speedy inner dialog” Peter Kyle has students walk three sides of a square at a snail’s pace.



Taking time to be thoughtful about your movements, actions, and the stories they tell falls right in line with a current personal project of mine, One Sentence.

Taking Place
July 2, 2014, 12:55 PM
Filed under: media | Tags: , , ,

garden theatreYesterday, July 1 2014, marked the start of Taking Place Columbus, a two week dance residency that is being run out of the Short North Stage at the Garden Theatre. Instructors have come from all over (New York, Baton Rouge) to create an open environment of shared process that will benefit the dance community worldwide.

After photographing the Locality 2012 circuit, I’m certain this latest incarnation of collective dance will be filled with intriguing movements that just should not be missed. Follow the link in the first paragraph to check out the Schedule of Events and see if you can make a workshop.

It’s pretty much all day,

every day from

July 1 – July 13th

Classes ¢ost, but spectators are free (and encouraged). Be a part of the guerrilla documentation, and have your photo/video/sound added to a massive Creative Commons Library run by The Meta-Academy #takingplacecolumbus

Share your perspective!

See you there.