could be more stunning than watching a troupe of dancers perform
on professional stages with dramatic artificial lighting and
hand-painted backdrops? Why the real thing, of course. Entertainment
photographer Jonathan Givens visited all 50 states (for a
total of 56 locations) photographing dancers in natural settings
unique to each area for his new book of photographs, Dance
Across the USA.
More than 3,000 dancers applied to participate in the project,
but only 163 (ranging in age from 5 to 61) were chosen. The
vast majority of the selected dancers are white females under
the age of 21, although a handful of male dancers, older women,
and ethnicities appear in some of the pictures. Costumes ranged
from skimpy leotards to lovely diaphanous skirts and tops.
Settings include famous waterways, state parks, and iconic
locations that are not typically associated with dance, such
as Grand Central Station in New York.
Shot over 90 consecutive days, the photographs feature high-flying
leaps into the air, graceful static poses, and everything
in-between. Givens provides daily notes on challenges he faced
in each setting – challenges that include problems with
weather, spider webs, alligators, and other natural elements.
He claims that all the photographs are real with no digital
compositing to enhance the pictures and no trampolines or
wires to elevate the dancers’ jumps. His only “tricks”
were to shoot when the natural lighting was most dramatic,
scout exciting locations, find perfect angles from which to
shoot, and encourage the dancers to express themselves without
The result is a full-color, 306-page tribute to the beauty
of America and its dancers. Equipped with only his trusted
van (nicknamed Mighty Buford) and his Canon cameras and flashes,
the author-photographer covered more than 22,000 miles on
this exhausting journey. Surely many of the gorgeous photographs
will inspire adults to plan road trips and youngsters to sign
up for dance classes. Perhaps the only way to improve this
beautiful softcover coffee table book would be to include
even more diversity – more dancers over age 21, more
men, more ethnicities, and more delicately draped costumes.