Happy Pre-Thanksgiving weekend, folks!
As I get further and further into my collaboration with photographer Gene Schiavone on our book of dancers' images and stories, what's been a little surprising me just how distinct each dancer's world is. I've interviewed a couple dozen dancers, some of them for an hour or more, and even though I was a dancer myself and "should" know everything about the dancing life, I have been pulled in to these artists' orbits, their pasts, presents and hopes for the future. Each one is worthy of a book of their own.
Of course there are commonalities. I'd say that they all share an almost reflexive drive to push through hardships in order to create a life in dance, even a blindness (though not denial) to those hardships. But the exact reasons for why they've done those things, and the realizations they've had along the way that in turn direct each subsequent step they choose to take? Those are absolutely unique and, to me, deeply interesting.
One of the earliest interviews I did was with Jacob Hughes, a fellow who Gene photographed when Jacob was a member of Orlando Ballet. After he'd been dancing there for several years, he had a significant injury that proved to be an enlightenment, truly a light bulb moment. Jacob's now performing in the West End production of Phantom of the Opera and says the musical theater life has given him more artistic freedom than ballet ever did.
I won't give away any more-- you'll have to wait for the book!-- but here's one of Gene's photos of Jacob, taken when he was in Orlando Ballet, that I think conveys his personality, ambition, style, and tenacity. Jacob says that at the time, he recoiled at how he looked (which boggles my mind, since it looks perfect to me), but now he sees it very differently.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Please have a warm, happy and delicious holiday, wherever and however you choose to spend it!