I was slightly nervous going into my photoshoot with Trish, only because I hadn’t done a dance shoot, or even worn a pair of pointe shoes since I was 17! (I’m almost 21 now 😹) Luckily I had already explained my injury to Trish, and we agreed that this would be more of a portrait based shoot involving movement than a straight up dance shoot, which was perfect for my situation. Once we actually started shooting, muscle memory started to kick in and I had a lot of fun and remembered why I used to like doing this so much!
My favorite genre of dance will always be ballet! My mom originally enrolled me in ballet classes at the studio across the street from my house when I was 4 years old. Apparently as a baby I was always jamming out to Brittney Spears, and she always felt like I would enjoy being in dance. I took classes at that studio every week, but I was so young it really was just a hobby. When I was 8 is when I took dance more seriously. I was still only taking a few classes a week, but for the first time I started stretching and practicing outside of class everyday on my own. I would choreograph dances in my living room for fun and teach myself how to do new steps that we weren’t doing in class. I improved so much during that year, and it really didn’t even feel like I was working that hard because I loved dancing that much. That’s when I first realized I might want to pursue dance more seriously.
Performing in front of an audience was always my favorite part of ballet. It’s kind of odd, because I have always hated being the center of attention in group settings, but for some reason when I was on stage, not only did it not bother me, but I always loved it! Especially if it was a character I could really relate to on a personal level (like Giselle or Odette). Showing my more delicate and vulnerable side in my dancing has always come more naturally to me, so when performing a role that highlights those emotions is when my artistry really shines through, and I feel like I truly express myself, especially if I’m in costume and performing on stage!
When I was 16, I was a student at a professional ballet school in New York City. I had just gotten moved up to the advanced level, and I was pushing myself way harder than my body could handle. One day in rehearsal, I did the same jump 10+ times in a row, and the last time I did the jump I fell and dislocated my right knee cap, tearing my MPFL, meniscus, and damaging most of my cartilage and tissue. I needed to have MPFL reconstruction surgery and took about 3 months off to recover from that. When I came back it became very clear that my knee was never going to be the same, but I kept pushing myself and trying to make it work. I finished out the semester and then spent the summer at a less intense summer intensive, but it was an uphill battle the entire time. By the end of the summer intensive I realized a professional career in ballet was not in the cards for me anymore. I didn’t have full range of motion in that knee, and i didn’t see myself being able to do big jumps or turns on that leg anytime soon, so I would not be on scholarship at the ballet school anymore, which was the only way I could afford to be there anyway. I had no other option than to quit ballet for a little while, and let my knee recover. It’s a few years later now, and while my knee is not fully recovered by any means, it is so so much healthier now! Last year I really started to miss ballet again, it had been such a huge part of my life for so long and i was really missing that artistic outlet. I discovered there was an adult ballet studio not too far from my house and I started taking classes there. I don’t see myself pursuing ballet seriously ever again, but taking class occasionally really has done wonders for me and has made me fall in love with ballet again in a whole new way.
I think most ballet dancers are perfectionists to some degree. I mean you kind of have to be to have the patience to work on the same movements over and over again striving to perfect it as much as possible your entire career, all while knowing you will probably never meet that standard you have set for yourself. While that perfectionism is necessary to be a good dancer, it can get to a degree that it begins to hinder your dancing. I remember at one point I became so obsessed with improving my technique that I became so rigid and stiff that I was barely even dancing anymore. It’s all about finding the right balance.
Working with Trish was such a positive experience for me! She made me feel so comfortable the entire time, any nervousness I had initially quickly dissipated. Sometimes as the model, it can be challenging to think of a ton of different poses on the spot, especially since you can’t see what you look like, but she was very helpful in posing you when you need it, but also giving you the freedom to do your thing when you’re in a groove. Most photographers I’ve worked with in the past have struggled with knowing how much instruction to give, and I was very impressed with how she handled this!
Many thanks to Juliet for taking part in this project! ~T