― On the 8th of Aug 2008, I took a photo of a dancer called Olga Stadnuk on the rooftop of her home in the Hadar neighbourhood, Haifa, Israel.
In the same month, 4 years later in London, I embarked on a project inspired by that 2008 photo shoot; photographing dancers dancing on rooftops.
Now, 14 years passed by - and after I've taken 65,000 photos during 57 sessions with 57 dancers on 43 rooftops across 9 countries - my project Dancers on Rooftops is COMPLETE!
This project means a lot to me, and with such a bulk of experiences, you can imagine I've got endless stories to tell.
I'd like to share one, that for me, sums up the meaning of music, movement and dance:
On June 21, 2022, I photographed retired 64-year-young dancer, Orit Tamuz Zipori, on her roof in Tel Aviv.
This was the last session of the project and in many ways, I couldn't imagine a better session to end it with;
I had just about enough photos to make it into a collection of 123 images, but I figured doing one more session will enable me to refine that selection. I planned to photograph working dancers from the internationally acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company (Tel Aviv), and was already working out a schedule with a few of them.
I needed a roof for that last photo session, and a friend connected me with his childhood friend Avigail. He said her mum has a great rooftop I could possibly photograph on. I chatted to Avigail and she said her mum will be so happy to host us, especially because she was also a dancer for Batsheva herself ...and then, I had a thought - why won't I photograph her mum?
Orit, her mum, a professional Batsheva dancer, was forced to retire after a vicious injury during a live premiere. She tore her ankle ligaments and kept dancing for 20 minutes until she collapsed into unconsciousness. This trauma kept her away from dancing for many years. Now, 24 years later, she found both physical and mental healing by becoming a Thai medicine therapist.
I suggested this idea to Avigail and she explained the history of her mum's accident to me. I asked, learning her mum's 64; "Do you think your mum is in an OK state to dance?". She replied with a confident yes, though she noted how considering her trauma, it might be a sensitive issue for her to dance, especially in front of a camera.
It made me feel such a session would be even more important and in many possible ways a healing experience. We decided we should ask her mum if she'll be up for it.
After a few days of careful diplomatic negotiations and sweet talk persuasion - we convinced Orit to take part - as a dancer.
Avigail, who was present during our session, said it was a delight to see her mother dance again. I assume it's been about 24 years since it last happened.
This photo below is of Orit, capturing exactly that delight on her face. Being in perfect flow with the space around and inside of her; dancing.