Over the course of this project, I have met and interviewed quite a number of dancers from all genres and styles of dance. From ballet to modern, tap to voguing, bringing out the true essence of a dancer depends a lot on not just my skills as a photographer, but also what the dancer brings to the lens.
I must first say, the vast majority of all of the dancers who have chosen to participate in my project have arrived at my studio with the utmost professionalism; on time, ready to take direction and wanting to capture the best images possible. I did have one unfortunate experience recently with a dancer (name withheld) that was a bit disheartening.
When a dancer shows up to the studio, they first report into my makeup department where they will start the process of getting ready while I am setting up the studio for the shoot.
In this one particular instance, I checked in with my dancer who was in the makeup chair to see how she was doing and discuss details on her wardrobe choices and the plan of action for her time on set.
This one particular dancer lacked the usual exuberance she demonstrated in our initial meeting (casting session) and confessed that she was "tired." With time and money spent on studio rental and support staff, telling me you are "tired" is the last thing I want to hear.
I asked her to please find a way to "wake up" in time to get on set.
Once on set, she clearly seemed unfocused and lacked the energy needed to get the job done. Unlike my other dancer, this one did not bother to stretch or do any kind of physical warm up before movement.
After shooting a few frames, it was apparent that she was not present in the space. To pull some energy out of her, I would ask her to make noises whenever she jumped! By the time I got into the second of the three wardrobe looks, I knew that this dancer was not going to bring me what I was expecting and I went ahead and cut the session short and sent her home (hopefully she went home and took a nap).
My make up assistant, who has been with me for much of the process of my project, clearly saw my disappointment in this one particular dancer and left me some encouraging words that the next dancer will be better and give me everything that they promised.
A bit of advice to anyone in the creative community - in this case, dancers...With the dance world in Los Angeles as small as it is, dancers know that word does travel in this industry. With so many dancers vying for jobs in this town, "tired" dancers can and will be replaced (cut) from the "I Am Dance" project.