So, my closest friends (or those who have been at a wedding with me) know I love dancing. I actually didn’t dance growing up. I grew up doing gymnastics and was a cheerleader for the better part of my middle school years. I didn’t start dancing until I was a freshman in high school by total fluke. I was was on an All Star cheer team that morphed into a dance team when we realized that we were much better dancers that we were cheerleaders. Because I didn't know any of the dance lingo or any of the basic technique, one of my teammates (now closest friends) taught me everything I know, and I practiced turns in my kitchen and leaps in my living room daily to get better.
"Dancing is an art. The floor is my canvas. And I am the brush. And whatever I create comes from the heart."
I loved dancing so much that as a junior in high school, I started the first ever high school dance team in my community with a friend of mine. We mixed our own music on cassette tapes (yes, I know, I’m totally dating myself), purchased "uniforms" from Rave at the local mall and choreographed our own routines. The following year, we found a coach who helped us buy real uniforms, professionally mix music, and we competed regionally and did pretty well (fun fact... 5 years later I actually went back to coach the team for two years).
When it came time to apply to colleges during my senior year, I never even considered dancing, but after a nudge from a friend and a real leap of faith (no pun intended), I tried out for the dance team at Towson University who had just won their first (of now over 17) national titles. I tried out amidst 150 other dancers who had all been dancing much longer than I had. When I got the call from the coach telling me that I made the team, I almost fell over! Over 150 girls and they chose 7... 7 and I was one of them! I immediately commit to attending Towson University.
To say my freshman year dancing was amazing is an understatement. I danced in stadiums during half time in colleges up and down the east coast. When we performed at local cheerleading competitions, all of the little girls would come up to us after and ask us for our autographs. And while I was an alternate on the nationals team, I still got to travel to Daytona Beach to take part in Nationals. To this day, I’m still best friends with two of my teammates.
At the end of my freshman year, though, I was told that I lacked the training to ever be on the competition floor, and I was not asked back on the team for my sophomore year. Talk about being completely heartbroken. I mean, the only reason I attended Towson to begin with was to dance. And while I loved Towson, the thing I loved most was dancing. So, after many tears and lots of thought (and a ton of support from my parents), I transferred to the University of Delaware where I walked on the dance team as a sophomore. Transferring as a sophomore was seriously one of the hardest things I have ever done (well at that point in my life). Starting from scratch at a brand new school, with no friends, in a dorm miles away from where most other sophomores lived was awful. Not to mention, I joined a team that I didn’t formally try out to be a part of. So walking into practice on my first day was intimidating to say the least. Nonetheless, I danced for UD for my remaining 3 years on the floor at nationals and even walked away with two second place national titles as a junior and senior and a showcase on ESPN. I used so many of my dance achievements and experiences in interviews my senior year of colleges while interviewing for jobs.
So, why bother telling you all of this? Because last week I was able to take my love for dance and my love for photography and marry them together so perfectly. Nine students at my own daughter's dance studio, Rage Box Dance Center, journeyed down to Baltimore City with me and made my “Urban Ballerina” vision come to life.
Sure, I love photography families and couples, but there was something so magical about this session. I watched in awe through the lens of my camera as they nailed skill after skill. They encouraged one another, they exchanged ideas, they gave critiques. It took me back to the time I spent dancing. The friendships I made. The bond we shared. The inside jokes we had. And let's just talk about talent amongst this group of girls. I wish that my technique way back when was half as amazing as theirs.
"Dancers aren't great because of their technique. They're great because of their passion."
We spent three hours leaping (literally) through the streets of Federal Hill and outside of the Visionary Art Museum. We had moms on lookout for oncoming traffic to make sure we could capture some frame-worthy shots.
Looking through all of these pictures of these beautiful dancers brings me so much joy. Every girl with her own strengths. Every one as determined as the next to nail every shot with perfect technique. They each have a bright future ahead of them, and I’m so lucky to have been able to capture this snapshot in their journey.
At the beginning of this year, my goal was to shoot everything - from weddings, to families, to newborns, to senior portraits, and I must say, this session helped bring so much clarity to what I want my focus to be. Am I going to solely become a ballerina photographer, no, not at this point, but am I going to work with more dancers moving forward, absolutely. I'm already brainstorming my next session!
In the meantime, enjoy these snaps of these beautiful dancers. And a huge thank you to their mamas for trusting me and my vision for these photos. xo