The hero, clearly, was Fred Strickler.
He is the chair of the Department of Dance. He and I talked about a cover where there would be students spelling the word “ARTS” for the Year of the Arts issue. We talked about using students from the various arts departments, but we settled on dance majors. They could contort their bodies and look comfortable doing it.
Fred took on the responsibility of finding the dancers, telling them what to wear, and scheduling the times for each pair to come. As he noted, “We’ll need a very good choreographer when we’re taking the pictures. I’ll do it.”
The photo shoot took place at the Chicago Avenue studio of John Kleinman, the well-known Riverside photographer. Steve Walag, the head of Photo Services, wanted to use Kleinman’s studio because there was more space.
The first pair of dancers were Erika Beuerlein and Michelle Fox. With just a few changes, they formed the “A.” On the cover, Erika is standing, and Michelle has her legs in the air.
The next pair, Tammy Merrick and Genevieve A. Castro, tried three letters and the “S” was the best. That’s Tammy with the lighter pants and Genevieve with the darker pants on the cover.
For the third pair, Joy Wilson and Adam Duffy, we wanted a “T.” At first, Fred tried having Adam balance Joy across his shoulders, but it didn’t work. It was too difficult for her to avoid sliding off. The better choice was to be on the floor and to have Steve Walag shoot down from atop an 8-foot ladder.
The last pair, Karen Alingog and Marcus Thomas, was the “R,” the hardest letter. What appears on the cover looks graceful, elegant, unhurried. Four seconds before the camera flash, one person was behind Marcus, pushing his back for support. Two others were on either side, supporting his forearms where Karen was kneeling. On a count of three, the support staff pulled away, and the two dancers held their pose – for about three seconds and one photo.