Caleido tells the Diary of NYC Dance Project, the project by Ken Browar and Deborah Ory focusing on portraiting the protagonists of the dance community. Welcome to Caleido, an inspirational diary, that narrates many stories: about creative people, trends, travels, objects. /Read the Editor’s letter here
Diary by: @nycdanceproject
1. In your photographs you pay attention to the movements, lighting and the feeling each image evokes. How can you capture the combination of creativity and rigour, one of the key factors in dance?
Rigor is a part of the process of dance. The repetitive nature of a ballet barre or a floor warm up that is needed to develop the dance technique, precision, and physical strength requires so much hard work and discipline. This shines through when photographing a dancer. To capture the creativity of dance, we always try to move away from traditional dance poses and focus on movement that is more expressive and unique to each dancer we photograph. We spend a lot of time working with each dancer to understand who they are as an individual and an artist. There is a lot of time at the beginning of our sessions dedicated to experimentation where the dancer can “play” around. After some time, we will all review the images together to pick a direction to work on. This allows us to fine tune our images and ideas, to achieve a special image that everyone, including the dancers really loves.
2. Is there a shot, unplanned, that you particularly cherish? Perhaps a dance scene taken during a trip? What title would you give that photograph?
A few years ago, American Ballet Theatre asked us for images for their Metropolitan Opera season that would be featured as billboards above the Metropolitan Opera House and around New York City. They sent over several of their Principal dancers and a few costumes, but unfortunately there were not enough costumes to work with and we had to improvise. We pulled out my wedding dress, a silver colored dress with a chiffon skirt, made by Danish designer, Ann Wiberg, and we knew that it would be perfect for @mistyonpointe. It was so incredible to see my dress on such an inspiring dancer and person at the Metropolitan Opera House! The photos later ended up in a museum show, where they also displayed my dress. If I had to title this image, I would definitely call it “Misty in my Wedding Dress.” The US Embassy in Poland currently has the image hanging and it’s a favorite of mine as it’s so personal to me. For the most part though, all of our images are both planned and unplanned – we plan a bit and have some ideas going into the photo sessions, but also leave a lot of room for creativity to happen on the set.
3. If you were to send a postcard from your “creative trip” right now, to whom would you send it? What message would you write?
We’ve taken a short break from taking photographs professionally to regroup after a crazy two years. After we finished our last book, The Style of Movement, we had a fire in our home and studio space and had to rebuild the space. Shortly after we began to rebuild, the pandemic hit. Our last two years have been dedicated to renewal and rebuilding, both of our physical space and of our creative vision. If I were to write a letter to my future self, I would let her know that taking time off is more than ok. We both want to start another project and have several exciting ideas in mind. As artists, there is a lot of pressure to feel like you need to always be creating new work. I would love to tell my future self that taking time off to rebuild and refine your vision before you begin on a project is a crucial part of the creative process.
NYC Dance Project was created by the husband and wife team of Ken Browar and Deborah Ory in New York. Ken was a fashion photographer, and Deborah brings to the project a background in dance and editorial photography. Together, they created the project to showcase the wonderful world of dance and dancers, centered in New York City. Ken’s passion for dance began when he lived in Paris and photographed dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet. Deborah has been a dancer since she was 7 and she began her photography career when injured as a dancer.
NYC Dance Project is a collaboration between Deborah and Ken and merges their experiences and creative passions to create unique and beautiful portraits of the dance community. The project is not just a collaboration between the photographers, but is also one with their subjects. Each shoot is prepared as though it were its own dance production, with attention paid to every detail – the movement, lighting and the feeling each photograph evokes.
Ken Browar and Deborah Ory have had their work exhibited worldwide and have their work represented by several galleries and museums. Their work was featured in solo exhibitions at the Lanoue Gallery in Boston, the Holden Luntz Gallery in Palm Beach and at the Hunter Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They are currently working on an exhibition for the Norton Museum in Louisiana.