The Daring Barbara Bourget
Five years ago I met Barbara Bourget when she was rehearsing "SKIN à fleur de peau". I was asked to photograph the production by Marguerite Witvoet who was its composer and vocalist, whom I had also photographed previously. The costume and its set design were by the artist Lyse Lemieux. These are all very active artists with plenty of talents.
Those days, Barbara used to shave her head, which made her look old and very young at the same time. I learned she was a dancer and choreographer for the Kokoro Dance of which she and her husband Jay Hirabayashi were founders. At the time I had heard of Kokoro Dance, but had never seen their performances.
She looked peculiar with a shaved head, but fascinating. I was struck with surprise even more when she took off her white T-shart right in front of me without any warning or hesitation and became naked as we were talking. I was totally unprepared and didn't know if I should look at her or not. Later, I learned it is a common practice among professional models and dancers to get undressed regardless of anyone around. It does not shock me any more to see that happening but at that time it did.
The production was most interesting and her performance was strong. The photograph I took of Barbara, her entire body painted all-white and wearing a latex costume had become a poster image for the Vancouver International Dance Festival of that year. Barbara and Jay Hirabayashi together had started the Festival in 1999. It is an annual month-long contemporary dance festival held in Vancouver.
Ever since, I have been photographing Barbara regularly on the stage, in my studio and at Wreck Beach, where a Kokoro Dance performance takes place every summer. She is one of the most creative and productive artists I know.
This year's Vancouver International Dance Festival starts on March 12th. For more information, check www.vidf.ca
Yukiko Onley is a Vancouver based photographer specializing in photographing people. Her service is available upon request. www.yukikoonley.com