Drawing Dance

Sunday, October 15, 2017


After several days of late-night Inktober sketches from my imagination, I was determined to do something different yesterday. So I got front-row seats to SJDanceCo's performance, Roots & Wings, at the Hammer Theatre in downtown San Jose.


There was just enough light from the orchestra pit and stage to see the paper. I sketched this with a Sharpie pen in a Canson Art Book Universal - Sketch. It's a relatively thin paper; this sketchbook is one that I started in Santo Domingo in 2012 and have come back to every so often. It's liberating to draw on this paper, as it keeps me from getting too precious with the lines. If I mess up, I don't feel bad about turning the page and starting over.


Drawing these dancers was incredibly challenging. They moved fast and contorted their bodies in positions that weren't easy to comprehend much less capture on the page. When I added color later, I tried to keep my washes loose and minimal. I made notes on the page to help me remember the colors, as photography wasn't permitted.

The sketch at the top of this post is of a solo performer -- she used a flowing red piece of cloth as her foil in her graceful, emotional piece.

Another act seemed to involve the dancers' fraught relationship with clothing of various kinds. Still another celebrated the joy of childhood, with props including a large balloon and a tricycle.


Have you ever tried sketching a dance performance of any kind? What are your tips for capturing the fluidity of the bodies as they twist and leap around the stage?

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