The Three Fellas: David, Richard and Todd

13 Jul

The three fellas, David, Richard and Todd, are photographic muskateers; all three were at Jackson in June, 2014 for the fifth time; alphabetically David Andrews, Richard Finkelstein, Todd Lechtick. The three are admittedly bonkers on dance and particularly ballet. Finkelstein and Lechtick are now official photographers for the USA IBC since Hubert Worley resigned from the position. Initially, all three came from the Rockies and Los Angeles.

Finkelstein, a theatre designer in his other life, three years with the University of Colorado, now resides in Harrisburg, Virginia where he teaches theatre deisign at James Madison Unniversity. Lechtick spends working hours at a University of California, Los Angeles affiliated clinic as a medical technician, and David Andrews runs a radio business near Denver. Andrews is the only one of the three who has yet to build himself a web-site. Finkelstein and Lechtick have image and bio-filled websites well worth visiting.

Because they float in and out of the press room, or linger to exclaim over a recent shoot, comment on the dancers, compare notes on cameras or check the roster of events, they have become part of the intrinsic ambiance of a Jackson Competition for me; I would sorely miss their absence. Richard and Todd verge on being Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee is size, Richard the one with glasses; David Andrews flirts with Beanstalk height.

Brief exchanges with them vary. Richard and Todd extolled two competitors’ classes taught by juror Nina Ananiasvili, one of the 1985 Prix de Jackson winners, now artistic director of the Georgian National Ballet after a career including lauded appearances with American Ballet Theatre. Todd’s website includes his images of her teaching. After the first class, substituting for jury chair Edward Villella, who was diagnosed with pneumonia, Olga Smoak murmured with awe, “She was channeling Raissa Strutchkova, her coach.” Richard said he had never seen or heard anyone teaching so firmly in such a positive, accepting manner. Todd’s images, taking during the second competitor class, show her dancing full out at moments. Moments like those make the raison d’etre for their showing up every four years, to spend inordinate hours recording social events, classes at the International School, in addition to performances. Thrifty USA IBC administration gets full value; Richard shows up each competition with photographic reproduction equipment he makes available, gratis, for what he produces. He provided images for me when I was reporting for the British web-site ballet.co.

Richard and Todd were housed at Cabot Lodge, courtesy of the Competition. Richard was seen trudging out the automatic doors at 7 a.m. to process pictures, Todd not much later. Every evening Richard had a handsome still image of a dancer on view in Thalia Mara’s foyer, and possibly a dozen or two more to interest the dancers.

David’s contributions have been quieter, still important. Until this year when the organizers changed procedures, he could be counted on to hand out tickets to the International School student, sitting in Belhaven’s Student Lounge, or chatting with Claudia Shaw at the table where a video monitor screened the official video record from the night before. David and Todd could be found at Belhaven’s cafeterias at noontime. For Richard, it was a hamburger at the Lamar, where I remember the late, wonderful Patrick O’Connor, responsible for getting Edwin Denby’s reviews into their first book form, exclaiming over the vigor of Yannis Pakieris. sharing the men’s silver with David McNaughton in 1979, Jackson’s first competition.

Todd recorded three lunches sponsored by USA IBC, the first on Dance for Parkinson’s Patients; the second on George Balanchine; the third on Women in Ballet with the 2014 women jurors. The words “special,” “privileged;” mean something to him. After years photographing around Los Angeles, helping Dwight Grell with his noted collection of Russian ballet material, Yvonne Mounsey paid for Todd’s initial airfare to Jackson as thanks for his devotion to her school. “She knew I was doing this primarily for the love of the art.”

David is more laid back about his photography; that doesn’t mean he’s less involved. Back in Colorado he photographs the Colorado Ballet and many recitals. “The fathers seem to have taken over,” he observed about the drop in copies of what he videotapes in the Denver area. He drives from Denver to Jackson; until this year, stayed in one of the rooms at Caldwell Hall made available to Competition lovers. This year he holed up at the King Edward Hotel, run by the Hilton Hotels, known as the Hilton Garden Inn, remarking laconically about the valet charges for his car and the fact he didn’t really notice the sound of the trains that passed his window at least once a day. He taped the second Ananiasvili class; I look forward to the historic record.

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