Earlier this month, I was invited to collaborate on a shoot with dance and conceptual portrait photographer Gabriel Rizzo (Golden Lion Photography). We met several years ago when I was a company member of Kairos Dance Theater, and it was a pleasure to work one-on-one for the first time.
In addition to snagging a 50-degree day in early December and not dying a frosty death as I borderline expected, I also lucked out with the trappings of a strong character built in for the shoot. We had an all black outfit with pantyhose, a vintage-looking skirt, and headscarf; twilight with bare trees and fallen leaves; and the old stone walls and large Victorian houses outside Harvard Square in Cambridge.
During previous shoots, I’ve generally still felt like myself, posing for the camera – or at least my dancer persona that I typically and comfortably sink into. This was the first time I began to head more into narrative territory, becoming a different character with Gabriel’s direction. I could certainly have done more and hope to do that in the future, but, the resulting photos still look more like cinematic stills than what I’ve produced before. In different locations, I fluctuated between embodying a witch, a Victorian woman in petticoats, a spirit dancing among trees and sunbeams, and, still, myself. Accompanied by various states of vulnerability, strength, pensiveness, joy, and maybe some seduction (nefarious or otherwise).
Gabriel shared on Instagram recently that the shots he takes are often inspired by the visions of his favorite film directors, including Terrence Malick. He wrote of one of our photos, “To me this photo carries [Malick’s] essence of ‘surreal visual poetry’.” I love that phrase, and think that speaks directly to what I’m attracted to in choreographic work as well as still photography. Check out the full portfolio of images from our shoot in my Gallery.