C.A.F.E. Dance Company

1111_Cafe Dance

Or, to those of us bilingually-challenged people (like moi):

Creation Art Figure Elegance

1171_Cafe Dance Group

My co-workers possess many hidden talents apart from their work in the office, and this never ceases to amaze me.  I see them on a day-to-day basis as geologists, engineers, managers, admins.  These office workers have lives outside of the office.  One of my co-workers runs marathons, another co-worker taught ballroom dance, while another was a lead singer for a touring band.  And one of my co-workers is a dancer for a Colombian dance troupe.

Maria noticed my photography and started looking through my blog posts, chancing upon the post  I published about the Colombian Orchid Ballet troupe and capturing the art of the dance.

One day, Maria approached me to ask if I would be willing to photograph the dance troupe to which she belongs:  C.A.F.E. Dance.  I told her I would love to photograph them.

On July 22, 2012, I packed up my Canon 5D Mk II bodies, my 24-105mm, 70-200mm, 50mm f1.2, and 85mm f1.2 lenses, pulled on my photo vest stuffed with memory cards and extra batteries, and drove to downtown Houston to capture images of the dancers as they prepared for their performance onstage during the Colombian and Venezuelan Festival.

1257-2_Applying Makeup

1364-2_Applying Makup CROP

0955_Orange and Green


1016_Getting Ready

1450_Getting Ready

1272-2_Costume Colors

Yes, I captured images of the men, too.  Some of these photos required a little artistic license on my part.  A hotel room is not the ideal backdrop for these brightly-dressed performers.




Coco Mendoza is the group’s artistic director. An amazing woman, constantly on the move. She was a hard one to pin down that day, for a photograph. I’d spy just the right moment for a portrait image, and by the time my eye reached the camera’s viewfinder, Coco had moved on to the next task.


1314-2_CoCo and Dancer

1110-2_Getting Ready with CoCo

And then, it was time to move from the hotel to the outdoor stage.

1519_On Their Way To The Stage

1565_Waiting To Go Onstage

0841_Stage Lights

I was actually allowed onstage to photograph the action!  I’ve never gotten to do that before!  I stood at one corner in front of the stage, next to the soundmen and the booming speakers (I guess that would be “stage right”, right?).

1582_Getting Ready to Dance

My goal that day was to try and capture the pure energy, enthusiasm and joy these men and women poured into their performance.  It’s high-energy stuff that made me want to dance – heavy camera backpack and all Winking smile


1457-2_Carrying The Dancer






1906_Twirling The Ladies

1752-2_Holding Him Up

1882_Dancers Onstage

1921_Dancing Onstage

1701_Balancing Act

1467-2_Having Fun Dancing



1739_Dancing Onstage

I also used a little of that artistic license again, in order to blur out some things (like the onstage fire extinguisher) and focus the eye more on the dancers.  Granted, unless one is a Photoshop Magician (which I am not), sometimes one must make do with what one has, photographing onstage, away from a studio or other set backdrop.


1843_Up In The Air

1843_Up In The Air_Blurred Background

This whole session was pretty much an experiment for me.  For you photographers interested in my settings: I used the AI servo focus mode on my 70-200 lens, because I captured close-up and portrait images during the dancing.  With the 24-105 lens, I kept it on one-shot focus and just hoped for the best as I snapped away.  ISO was between 250-400, and shutter speeds were high.  Apertures were between 5.6 and 7.1.  Having never seen their routines before, I didn’t know where the really good parts were – you know, the acrobatic parts, or parts of the  dance with a lot of flourish to it.  I just hoped for the best.  In the end, I was pleased with what I captured on digital “film”.

After the performance, as the energized dancers walked back to the hotel, Maria turned to me and remarked that they were a young group in terms of performances and years performing together.  I told her it didn’t  matter.  If they have a fun time onstage, then the audience will see that and in turn have a fun time, themselves.  That’s what it’s about, right?

1550_Costumed Group Shot CROP


Filed under dance, Houston, Photography, Texas

6 responses to “C.A.F.E. Dance Company

  1. I enjoyed seeing all your wonderful, colorful gorgeous shots. Nice costumes, I can feel them dancing. You did a great job too as the picrure taker, Two of them appear to be floating, is tha just your lens or is it software.??

    • If it’s the photo I think you mean, then it’s the software (Photoshop CS5). In the blog, I mentioned there were times when I had to take a certain degree of artistic license to try and focus the viewer’s eye more on the dancers and less on things like the fire extinguisher on the floor or the policeman standing in the background.

  2. it is always so much fun to be invited on stage to photograph a performance. there is so much to thing about, and so many factors we cannot control, like backdrop. it looks like you had a great day, the photos are wonderful.