Shall We Dance?

People imitate art at the East Building of the National Gallery of Art.  Leica M 240, Summicron-M 50mm f/2.
People imitate art at the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. Leica M 240, Summicron-M 50mm f/2.

Don’t you love people?  No question that art evokes many emotions from people, and not all of them revolve around deep introspection.  Yes, there’s that, but I have to admit that there’s something refreshing in seeing a different type of reaction from visitors to an art exhibit.  Like many other visitors to the National Gallery of Art East Building this weekend, I was totally fascinated by this simple sculpture of four young women dancing.  I must have gone around it ten times with my camera trying to find the right angle for my shot, but considering that I was shooting with with 50mm lens, finding the right place proved to be harder than I though.  My primary interest was to capture people’s reactions to the sculpture, but this also proved to be quite challenging because most people simply stood there next to the art piece looking as if in some sort of a trance.  After a while, I gave up and walked away, only to return later to give luck another opportunity to show its kindness to a struggling photographer.

Fast-forward a few poker faces and a few minutes later, and there was the photo I was waiting for all along.  Two young women not yet affected by the sclerotic effect of time, suddenly became one with the joyous scene before us.  With disarming innocence and cheer, they broke into dance as if to join the celebration that was taking place before they arrived at the scene.  The whole thing didn’t last more than 30 seconds, but I was glad I stuck around waiting for something to happen.  In some way, what the camera captured had to do with much more than the recording of a simple photograph.  The scene revealed the endless wonder of youth, the disarming effect of a moment of happiness, and the sheer beauty of unencumbered spontaneity.  Who knows, maybe that’s what the sculpture was all about.