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Dance Warriors – Oil | Denver Dance Photography

The Dance Warriors project is an artistic response to political and social issues, in collaboration with dancers across the country. This project started as my response to our changing political climate and my desire to make an impact for the better. This is my way to use Denver dance photography to raise awareness about the issues that face us today.

This was the first session I did locally, in Colorado. For months, I drove past the Suncor oil refinery a few days a week. It’s very visible from the highway. Something about it intrigued me. It looked so cool, industrial, grungy, even beautiful, but it also made me sad. It may look beautiful but it’s function wasn’t. Knowing what it was and the harm it was doing to us and the environment made it frustrating to see every time I drove home. Knowing that there are better ways to create the energy we need but that those methods are being suppressed and blocked so these companies can stay in business, without the need to change or innovate. That was hard to deal with. And seeing this symbol of that damage so close to the city I call home was difficult too.

I knew this had to be the location of the next installment of the Dance Warriors project. Jessie Westbrook is a dancer, choreographer, and model. She contacted me about this project and was very passionate about the idea. Read on for more about her and her thoughts on the oil industry, plus the photos!

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Tell me a bit about yourself.

I have been dancing for 21 years. I’m trained in ballet, pointe, modern, contemporary, jazz, house, and bboy.  I love to spend my free time in the outdoors, hiking, camping, anything that brings me outside. We have a 5-year-old boarder collie aussie mix who is our ever loyal adventure buddy. I teach dance to kids and teens and hope to have my own dance company one day.

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Why are you passionate about the oil industry?

Even though I don’t know much about the oil industry I feel very passionate about changing it because I grew up hearing about the effects of global warming and now we are starting to see it. It is becoming very real and it strikes a huge chord with me when people continue to turn and look the other way, motivated by greed or manipulated by corporations.

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How has dance helped you express yourself? 

Dance has helped me find a way to express myself when words have failed. It has helped me through the hardest years of my life and has been a platform of communication and change. Dance is a part of who I am, helps me find direction and purpose, and empowers me to do the things that I didn’t think I could.

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What do you think is the intersection between art and politics?

Art is a platform to express any message that one feels is important. It is a different type of voice, one that commands a thought process, a conversation.

 

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Want engaging dance photos to reach new audiences and sell more tickets? Want to be a part of the Dance Warriors project? Contact me here or message me at jamie@jamiekraus.com.

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PD Dance Festival First Look | Denver Dance Photography

The Presenting Denver Dance Festival, presented with the Robert and Judi Newman Center was a huge success! I’ve been part of an amazing team of volunteers helping to make this festival a reality for the past two years or so. Even with all the work we had done leading up to the festival, I did not expect to sell out every show in our inaugural year! But that’s just what we did. Each show was packed with people and we got wonderful feedback. 

The two day festival consisted of two different shows, the “New and Now” showcase and the “No Walls” concert, with 15 local dance companies and eight brand new world premieres. All the performers were absolutely incredible! There was such a great mix of styles and emotions and the flow of the shows was perfect. Any performance that can make you laugh and cry and stare in awe, all in the same show is pretty amazing in my book! I was so impressed by how it all came together.

I’ll be sharing most of the images from the festival in the months leading up to the 2020 Presenting Denver Dance Festival (mark your calendars!), so you’ll have to be patient if you want to see them. I am just too excited to share these photos though, so you get a special sneak peek in the meantime. Keep scrolling for a few photos from the New & Now showcase as the first look at our first festival ever! 

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Credits (in photo order):
Schiff Dance Company
Edgar L. Page
Kristen Demaree
Chadesh Contemporary Dance Movement
Hannah Kahn Dance Company
Helanius J. Wilkins
Gregory Gonzales
Moripovida Contemporary Dance

Want engaging production photos to reach new audiences and sell more tickets? I would love to help tell your story through photos. Contact me here or message me at jamie@jamiekraus.com.

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Dance Company Headshots | Denver Dance Photographer

When I photographed Park Hill Dance Collective at their first creative session, we did some quick headshots for their company programs. We didn’t have the full hour like we did with their Academy photos but we made sure to take some time during the session to get everyone’s portrait. I found a nice spot, with great, even lighting to do the headshots. Everyone stood in the same spot and in similar poses so that all the photos would be cohesive. And I made sure to give each dancer horizontal and vertical options. They can also be cropped however they need to be. Now, on their website and programs, the company photos are consistent and cohesive!

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It is so important for dance companies to have portrait sessions like this. Even if a full session is out of the question, taking some time during a promo photo shoot or rehearsal photography is a great start. Dancers come from schools and companies all over the place and they will each have very different headshots or even none at all. Consistency with dancer bio portraits, in programs and on websites, helps give the company a more professional look overall. It also creates a more unified look. You are a company, a family, working together. Not just a group of random people who happened to show up to the same theater at the same time.

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Additionally, since many dancers have multiple jobs and work with more than one dance company, it’s helpful for them to have a portrait that is unique to your company. With company headshots sessions, dancers won’t have to use the same photo for all the companies they dance in, which might dilute each company’s image. Many dancers do not have up to date or professional headshots of their own and using outdated headshots, snapshots, or selfies in programs and online does not project a professional image for a dance company. I am so glad we took the time to do these photos for Park Hill Dance Collective. This group looks great together!

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Looking for engaging portraits for you or your company? Contact me at jamie@jamiekraus.com.

Park Hill Dance Collective in the Rain | Denver Dance Photography

Denver weather can change in an instant, which can make planning sessions a bit tricky. But I love Denver dance photography in all kinds of weather. I had a creative session with Park Hill Dance Collective planned for a Sunday in the Fall at City Park. A half hour before the session, Karlyn called me because it was pouring out. She knew her company dancers would be fine with dancing in the rain but we had also scheduled headshots for her youth company at the same session and she didn’t want the kids to get soaking wet and catch colds. We almost moved this session to a dryer location at the last minute but I am so glad we didn’t. We missed all the downpours and just had a light mist the whole time. Plus there were plenty of overhangs to duck under and places to run in to stay warm.

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This rainy, foggy day proved to be quite beautiful for our creative session with Park Hill Dance Collective. We did the last Collective shoot a few years ago, and they needed some updated portraits and photos from their new pieces. City Park is an awesome location to do a session of any kind. For Park Hill, it was perfect since it’s just a few blocks away from their studio. Karlyn and the company have always been very connected to their neighborhood, so I’m so glad we were able to incorporate that into our session this time.

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City Park has some great natural areas, but being the city kid that I am, I always gravitate toward the architectural features. We started out behind the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where there is a super cool sculpture (I’m a sucker for public art!) and some fun windows. The male dancers could only stay for the first part of the session, so the ladies and I had some fun at the end. We went down to the lake, where there is this lovely little retaining wall and a great view of the fountain and boathouse. I thought we might get some epic skyline views too, but by the time we got there the fog was so thick, you couldn’t see the buildings anymore! I think we got some pretty epic photos none-the-less.

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I had to include this blooper, just for fun!

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Want engaging production photos to reach new audiences and sell more tickets? I would love to help tell your story through photos. Contact me here or message me at jamie@jamiekraus.com

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2017 in Review | Denver Photographer

2017 was quite a year! I started the year at home, sick, rewatching the ball drop in New York City, but I ended it watching the fireworks on the 16th St. Mall in a crowd of cheering Denverites. Last summer, I moved to downtown Denver and absolutely love it! I even have a great indoor space to use for portraits in my apartment building. I’ve grown my arsenal of camera gear and business goodies, so I now have my own lighting equipment and client management software for a better client experience. Like all years, there were ups and downs, but I’m so excited about how much I and my business have grown!

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The headshot side of my business has grown a lot in 2017 and with each session, I love it more and more. I’ve worked with lots of talented performing artists, many fearless small business owners, and plenty of others, from engineers to politicians. I also used my camera to give back to the community—donating senior portraits to teen parents.

As part of my goal to network more, I had my first (and second) speaking engagement, creating an interactive presentation to teach women “How to Love Yourself in Photos.” It was so much fun to share my knowledge with others and empower them at the same time!

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This season, I became a Corporate Sponsor for Opera Colorado while photographing even more amazing events and performances for their 2017-2018 season. I met their seven new Young Artists and got a first peek at their new rehearsal/event/performance space!

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I continued working with the wonderful Park Hill Dance Academy and Naropa University’s Theater Program. I also photographed shows from other local theater and dance companies, including Local Lab and Wild Heart Dance. And I continued to work on new personal dance projects.

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In my personal life, I photographed my family reunion in North Carolina and took my camera to the Boulder Pride Parade, the Women’s March on Denver, and other protests. I started and then quickly gave up on a New Year’s resolution to take a professional selfie each month (not all resolutions are meant to be kept!). What brought me to tears, however, was seeing the total solar eclipse in Wyoming—an overwhelming experience!

I’m sure 2018 will bring even more exciting and stunning moments to capture. Wishing you a joyful year ahead!

Interested in working with me? Send me an email at jamie@jamiekraus.com.

Summer Moving Project | Denver Dance Photography

I love being able to capture talented artists of all ages. Denver dance photography is my way of interpreting the creativity of local performing artists and create everlasting memories out of their art. These photos can be used by the company to promote their show and their school, as well as by the performers for their portfolio. They also serve as a wonderful memento for the dancers and their parents. This past summer, I was given the opportunity to photograph a student production in Broomfield, Colorado and I was blown away by the performance.

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Summer Moving Project is Colorado Conservatory of Dance‘s annual summer showcase. Colorado Conservatory of Dance has dance classes for students from ages one to adulthood. Their studios are in Broomfield, just down the street from where I used to live! They have two main performances each year, their Nutcracker performance and the Summer Moving Project. This is the students’ chance to show off what they’ve been learning throughout the school year. The middle and high school students performed in a beautiful multi-piece show at the Broomfield Auditorium, in July.

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I was so impressed by the skill and creativity of these young dancers. They bring so much passion to their performances. Everything, from the costumes to the music and lighting was professional and well thought out. The pieces were fun, emotional, silly, and upbeat. There were various pieces performed by the different age groups and the show ended with a final piece involving all the students in the show. Overall, it was an exceptional show!

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The image above is one of my favorites from the show. I love the layering of the three dancers and the strong emotion they each evoke in their movement. The lighting adds an additional level of drama to this dance photo.

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Want engaging production photos to reach new audiences and sell more tickets? I would love to help tell your story through photos. Contact me here or message me at jamie@jamiekraus.com

Dance Festival 2018 | Denver Dance Photography

Denver is getting its very own Dance Festival next summer! Presenting Denver is hosting the Presenting Denver Dance Festival with The Newman Center in June 2018 and I am so looking forward to it! The jurors are deciding what companies will perform as I write this. As a Presenting Denver ambassador, I serve on the festival committee that is planning the two day event. I also serve as a photographer ambassador, along with Amanda Tipton.

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In preparation for the announcement of the festival, Amanda, Leslie Merrill, a Presenting Denver videographer ambassador, and I did a photo shoot at the Exdo Event Center with local dancers who volunteered for the shoot. We photographed three sets of dancers, in stations. We each photographed each dancer or company separately and then we had them collaborate together.

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These photos are from the first set of dancers, Michelle Bernier and Cali Nass. Michelle is a contemporary dancer, while Cali does hip hop and modern fusion dance. It was so fascinating to see these two dancers, who had never met, and had completely different dance styles, improv and collaborate together. They made some pretty incredible photos!

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Exdo was the perfect location for this photo shoot. We had access to the main indoor space all day, and the outdoor space, in the morning. The light and textures inside was so diverse and fun to play with. It changed throughout the day which gave each dancer a different look to their photos. For the collaboration part of the day, we went outside, in the graffitied alley behind the Exdo Event Center. When we were there, new murals were being painted, so the images had a cool “work in progress” feel to them.

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Want engaging production photos to reach new audiences and sell more tickets? I would love to help tell your story through photos. Contact me here or message me at jamie@jamiekraus.com