We were saddened to read about the passing of renowned dancer Mel Tomlinson in the New York Times this week. It stated he was “a ballet dancer of powerful, regal demeanor and one of the few performers to star with three major dance companies: Dance Theater of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the New York City Ballet.”
We had the privilege and honor of both knowing Mel as a friend and photographing him on various occasions during the early 1990s. He was kind, generous and possessed of a fierce, inner spirituality. He referred to us as “his photographers” which we took as a high compliment.
His electrifying performances were unforgettable. We once shared with him early 20th-century Russian composer and pianist Alexandre Scriabin’s Sonata # 5, one of the most diabolical and passionate pieces ever composed for piano. Mel hadn’t heard it before. He called it “orgasmic” and decided to choreograph a dance to it for his “farewell to the stage” performance. It was thrilling.
Mel once wrote these words in our diary: “As a dancer traveling through time, one of the most difficult things to maintain is the visual image. You’ve captured it in your work. Thanks for making Art out of my Art and sharing the joys of my effort.” He then challenged us to “capture the beauty of the world.” His words inspire us to this day.
Godspeed Mel… know that we and many, many others are grateful for your unique, artistic legacy!