Dancing On a Shoestring

Fred Astaire performs his famous "ceiling dance" in Royal Wedding (1951)

 A few years ago, just before I left my job as Creative Director at the Palm Beach Post I discovered that our humor columnist, Frank Cerabino, had been taking ballroom dancing lessons with his wife. I suggested it would make a great lead story for the Sunday Features section and assigned myself the job of illustrating it.

The final set. Furniture dangles from overhead beams.
 Props are taped or bolted into place.

 At the time we had one of the best photo departments in the nation. In that department was Ray Graham who shot mostly in the studio. Ray is a master of studio lighting, interiors shots and portraiture. As it turned out- he was also very handy with carpentry tools.

Ray Graham engineered the set after my initial design including
 the wiring for the "ceiling" light and wall sconces.
 We scavanged for furniture and built light-weight props
for the set. The paintings came from my studio.

 My plan was to construct a set and re-create the famous Astaire picture. I'm not a fan of using Photoshop as a means to an end. Too often the picture ends up looking boring and amateurish. Save Photoshop for "post-production" nips and tucks.

Ray and I couldn't resist posing as Spiderman 

 It was essential to keep my costs down- if for no reason than to justify not doing it all in Photoshop. Not counting the extra unpaid man-hours Ray and I put into the project the fina bill came to around $600. Half came out of my pocket and half was reimbursed.

Art director and photographers work out the pose and final lighting.

Working through the poses with dancers Frank and Jo Cerabino.

The story appeared in the newspaper just before Christmas
so I added suitable decorations to the set.

The final result called for a simple crop to the "floor" and side walls. It was a great  collaborative effort by everyone involved and proves that there are no limits to what can be accomplished on a shoestring budget. I suppose I could have just DRAWN the picture but where's the fun in that?

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