I Am, 2015-17
The images in this body of work are a direct result of a collaboration with six dancers who agreed to explore and share aspects of their core identity, alter ego and/or secret identities with me over the course of an several months through an interview and developmental process. I was interested in making images of dancers in their own power, portraying themselves instead of assuming roles dictated by a choreographer, as is typical in a dancer’s life. I was also interested in the cathartic power of considering, putting into words, and then honoring through the subsequent image making process, aspects of their identities that lie outside of their dominant dance identity.
Dancers often train for their careers from early childhood on and subsequently develop identities that are delicately interwoven in the lifestyle of dance which is more narrowly focused than kids and young adults who have a variety of interests, experiences, hobbies and social circles to draw from. A career in dance requires complete dedication to the craft and spending the majority of one’s life in classes and rehearsals with teachers and choreographers who demand they are open vessels ready to receive and take on whatever roles or characteristics are necessary for the choreography. Dancers identities are often wrapped up in the singular thing they strive for which is the pursuit of perfection and the act of “becoming” itself.
As a former dancer I went through a difficult identity crisis after leaving dance in my mid-thirties due to a spinal injury. If I wasn’t a dancer, who was I? I wanted to make a project that would be cathartic to my own experience as well as to possibly assist other dancers in thinking about their non-dance identities. I set out to work with dancers of all ages and to ask them to talk about their own identities via interviews and then to collaborate in a process in which they could actively participate in self-discovery and to bring awareness to and honor various aspects of their identity in front of the camera. This was a very personal, intimate and empowering collaboration for all of us.
The process included interviews to excavate and put into words each aspect of identity (core, alter ego, secret or hidden) and then moved on to collaborating on wardrobe, props and movement improvisation for each aspect of their identity in front of the camera. I spent 10-20 hours with each of the six dancers in this project and have hundreds of images from which I have culled several dozen for exhibition and a potential book.
The result is a collection of images for each dancer that express as wholly as possible, the aspects of their identity they have discovered, defined and taken ownership of during this project.
Images available in 16x20 and 24x30, archival pigment prints