How Dance Influences My Art Part I

Battle - Two groups of asian guys in black and white suits break dancing on the street Boston's in Bay Village.

Over the holidays I got to catch up with some old friends, and reminisce about how we got to where we are now. One topic that was brought up is the influence of my dance experience on my artwork.

I’ve been a dancer much longer than I’ve been a photographer, so it’s probably no surprise that dance has had a profound influence on my creative process.

My earlier drafts of this post was too long for comfortable reading. So I’ve broken it up into two parts, starting with this post.

One of the primary ways in which dance has influenced my art, is that I’m not much of a techie or gear head.

I don’t really nerd out over cameras or photo gear, because my experience with dance has taught me that if you’re creative, you can create out of next to nothing. All I need to dance, is a bit of space, and rhythm. Everything else is optional (although music and a flat open space is preferable!). This is why I try to shoot with as little equipment as possible. Generally that means just my camera and a tripod (and also carefully choosing the time and place where I plan my shoots).

Dance is also where I learned how to be creative.

In the style of dance I do, BBoying (or break dancing as it’s more commonly referred to), there’s this concept called “biting.” Basically biting is just the vocabulary word we use for plagiarizing another dancer’s move. Biting is bad, like as cheating on your SAT’s bad. Instead, BBoying taught me to evolve my inspirations, and kick them up to the next stage.

Here’s an example of how this works in practice. When I see a dancer do a move I really like, I try to focus in on what it is about that particular move that interests me most. This could be any number of things: the set up, quality of movement, or just how the move matches the music. I then try to incorporate that specific quality into my dance, by combining it with other moves and characteristics I like.

I have a very similar approach to art making. For example I love gothic architecture! But specifically, I love how every detail in a building can be symbolic in of a larger narrative. This is why I try to use every detail in my photographs such as location, colors, lighting, to contribute to a larger narrative I’m trying to express.

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