Dancers Among Us: 10 Breathtaking Photos
The World is Your Stage
Inspired to take pictures that captured his 5-year-old son's wide-eyed enthusiasm for life, NYC-based photographer Jordan Matter started snapping professional dancers jumping, leaping, spinning, and literally flying through daily life—on the beach, across a subway platform, in a library, and through the rain. The result: the nearly 200 photos in his new book, Dancers Among Us ($18; amazon.com). All of the shots are totally authentic (none were digitally altered, and no trampolines or other devices were used to help the performers catch air), which makes the artistry and athleticism they exhibit that much more impressive.
Matter was nice enough to share 10 incredible photos from his book, along with insider info on how he captured each one!
Rachel Bell; Baltimore, Maryland
"Not only is Rachel hanging off a cannon at great heights, but we shot in 105 degrees. That cannon was steaming hot," Matter says. "I found a very strong man standing nearby and asked him to hide behind the cannon and hold her left leg."
Jeffrey Smith; 42nd Street Subway in New York, New York
"One of the early photos I took for Dancers Among Us. Jeffrey was a member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and they became my original collaborators," Matter says. "When I took this shot, I realized what the project could become."
"Gonna Fly Now"
Evgeniya Chernukhin; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
"For me, recreating the famous sunrise moment from Rocky meant waking up at 4 a.m. For Evgeniya, it meant not sleeping at all," Matter says. "In an hour and 20 minutes, she jumped 200 times as I struggled with composition. And she still had energy left for two more locations!"
Sarah Braverman; Bleau Bar at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, Florida
"I had the idea of a drunken woman passed out on her date's arm while he explores his options. Sarah had the perfect pose and outfit to complete the story," Matter says. "Gotta love a dancer who loves heels!"
"And Don't Come Back"
Brendan Barthel and Kaitlyn Ebert; San Francisco, California
"The dog makes the shot, and he was only there for five seconds. Absolute serendipity that he turned to look at Brendan just when I took the photo. Then he disappeared back inside," Matter says.
"Adam and Eve"
Rachel Bell and Mitch Winans; Towson, Maryland
"Mitch and Rachel had been dating for five years, so I wanted something romantic for their anniversary," Matter says. "We picked flowers from a field behind the fence. Rachel jumped 46 times, and this was the last shot."
Ryan Smith and Wendy Rein; Stanford, California
"My family came with me for this shoot. My 5 year-old son, Hudson, was giving them notes between takes," Matter says. "The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree."
"My Time of Day"
Besty Ceva; Nyack, New York
"When I first met my publishers, they expressed concern that all the photos were set in Manhattan," Matter says. "I lied and told them I planned to shoot around the country. They loved the idea, so I actually had to do it! This was my first attempt at a shot outside of New York City."
Karin Ellis Went; The Highline in New York, New York
"Karin retired from the prestigious American Ballet Theatre once her baby Madeleine was born, but she was still in great enough shape to jump 64 times while I waited for her daughter to do something fantastic," Matter says. "It was worth the wait!"
Angela Dic and Demetrius McClendon; Chicago, Illinois
"This was an extremely difficult shot to get, Matter recalls. "The crosswalk had to be packed, they both had to reach the peak of their jumps at the same moment, Angela's face had to be framed in white and her expression flirtatious, and Demetrius needed to look surprised and thrilled. And we only had 20 minutes to shoot."
Jordan Matter (photo by Samantha Siegel); New York, New York
"Given all the crazy things I asked dancers to do over the years, it was only fitting that when it came my turn to jump, the heavens opened up," Matter says. "I jumped 21 times in five minutes through the pouring rain, and that was more than enough to gain a deeper understanding of exactly how difficult the poses in this book are. The dancers make it look so effortless, and yet it is so, so difficult."
What's next for the artist? Jordan reveals to SHAPE that there will be a 2014 wall calendar released featuring more of his work. And he's continued shooting since the book was published. To see his latest work, check out his Facebook page. And for more on how these amazing photos were captured, check out this behind-the-scenes video.