Michael Roberts

In the Recording Studio with Michael Roberts – Images by John Nelson

This is a set of pictures I did some time ago of musician Michael
Roberts, musician extraordinaire whose artistry includes his playing
piano for dancers. He was accompanist for the Royal Ballet School in
London and has performed with dance companies including Alvin Ailey,
Mark Morris and Los Angeles Ballet, as well as with master teachers
David Howard and Finis Jhung.

I got to know Michael in Los Angeles while I was photographing the
young men and women in the professional dance training program the The
Trudl Zipper Dance Institute at The Colburn School. He is faculty
member and technical coordinator at Colburn, and you can find him
several times a week behind the piano accompanying the gifted young
dancers music in their daily workouts as well as their public
performances. One of the photos from this session ended up on the
cover of one of his CDs, “Dancing Fingers.”

I love this type of session because I can melt into the background. I
get to enjoy the music and watch and hear creative people at work. The
biggest difficulty for me is that during the actual recording, I
pretty much could not shoot, because even the quite quiet shutter
release of my Leica would be heard on the recording.
Photo tech notes: Leica rangefinder camera, 35 mm 1.4 and 50mm f2 fixed focal length lenses. All shot on Tri-X film pushed 1 or 2 stops.

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