In the earlier part of the 19th century when photography began to compete with other forms of graphic impression there was an emphasis and interest in the idea that photography was accurate (alas! Photoshop took care of that in the 20th century). There were some photographers who thought if they parked their cameras in front of a dying person they would be able to capture (a term used a lot in this 21stcentury but with far more relevance in the 19th in this instance) that precise moment when the soul (life force?) left the body. Of course they all failed. They should have known of the impossibility simply by thinking and applying Zeno’s paradox in conjunction with Newton and Leibniz’s infinitesimal.
In Spanish we have the term “de cuerpo presente” which means a funeral service where the dead person is present, usually in an open coffin. But there is a secondary meaning that I like. It is applied to the strong presence of a real presence. Think of Marlon Brando de cuerpo presente and you will know what I am citing here.
I saw many bullfights as a teenager in Mexico City and I had the good fortune of seeing Spanish matador Paco Camino. There was something about him that I could only call presencia. It perhaps had to do with his movements similar to that of a very talented ballet dancer. I never saw Manolete but even in his photographs you knew he had it.
And yet you can watch two ballet dancers, equally good and only stare and be moved by the one that has that so difficult to define presence.
In my years of going to ballet and modern dance performances I noticed this intangible talent in Evelyn Hart, Lauri Stallings and at the Arts Umbrella Dance Company the French Canadian Béatrice Larrivée and also there, Albert Galindo and Nicole Ward.
And I could not possibly forget my friend, dancer/choreographer Sandrine Cassini.
Larrivée graduated a couple of years ago and is now dancing in Montreal. She posted, recently, this video which is a genuine selfie video. I don’t quite understand it but I know enough about dance that there is that exciting intangible there that is presencia. And she has it in spades.
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.