Dance has become an important part of my life since college. I did the whole "ballet/jazz/tap" thing as a kid, dropped out to focus on gymnastics, and then dropped out of that to focus on music, then photography. I never did pointe or more advanced dance work and always regretted it....until I discovered the fabulous Ninth Street Dance in Durham. It's a gem of a dance studio that offers classes to anyone- dance background or no dance background. For the past for years I have been dancing alongside some fabulous dancers, and they have inspired me to do a dance photography series. Since I'll probably never have the swag of a hip-hop dancer or the grace and balance as a pointe dancer, I'll settle for collaborating with them on creating dance portraits, living vicariously through their beautiful movements.
The dance portraiture that is offered by studios is often cheesy and too-posed for my taste. (I have portraits of my five-year-old-self in gaudy jazz costumes to prove it!) When I stumbled across the Ballerina Project- a fabulous collection of art/fashion/landscape portraits of ballerinas against the NYC backdrop--I was inspired to create similar artful dance portraits. My first shoot with Sakina last December was my first attempt at creating my own version of the project. The next shoot with Jessica was my second attempt.
Jessica danced in Sakina's class with me last fall and taught the spring session of intermediate lyrical/contemporary dance. She has danced since she was little and continued to dance with a company during her college years. I was always impressed by her strength, perfect leaps, and solid center in class. It was so fun to have her dance for the camera! We trekked through West Point on the Eno in Durham, and she even balanced on a log in the river for me!
Jessica, thanks so much for being such a fabulous dance instructor this past semester. And thank you for being a willing subject for this series! You are a beautiful dancer and I hope that these photos remind you of why you dance! :)