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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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Dance Teacher Joe DeMers | Denver Headshot Photographer

Sutton Anker interviewed Joe DeMers for Presenting Denver’s In the Spotlight series. To accompany the interview, I took Joe’s headshots at Presenting Denver’s headquarters. Joe first fell in love with dance as a senior in high school, when he decided to take social dance classes to prepare for his senior prom. It was through that class that he found a new interest and a community. Even though he didn’t study dance in college, he used that time to learn social dance, attend conferences, and compete.

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“His interest in learning more about the social components of dance led Joe to develop the emergent form of Drag Blues. Joe does not, however, take the credit or consider himself to be the almighty creator of Drag Blues. ‘If anything, I am standing on the shoulder of giants thinking, hey, I’m gonna take this movement, this one, (and) this one and put them together.’ Joe listed some specific styles and elements of dance such as Jookin’, Savoy Slow Drag, Strut, Lindy Hop, and more. He suggests that his contribution lies in amalgamating certain qualities of these various dances, with the result of Drag Blues. When Joe attended a competition with a friend and, to his surprise, won the entire competition with a Savoy-style Drag Blues, he realized he needed to learn more about what he had started.”

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Joe is incredibly passionate about the history of dance, the dance community, and the different styles of social dance. When he changed careers from a science teacher to a dance teacher in the public school system, his passion for dance and its history was reignited. A year after he started his job as a full time dance teacher, Joe won Colorado Dance Teacher of the Year and National Dance Teacher of the Year. “Joe’s passion for dance, desire for community relationships, and enthusiasm for teaching is changing lives for the better.”

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Looking for a relaxed, fun headshot experience, with a lot of character? Contact me at jamie@jamiekraus.com.

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Dancer and Activist Pi DuVal | Denver Headshot Photography

One of the ways in which I volunteer my time is by donating my Denver headshot photography to Presenting Denver. Presenting Denver is a non-profit organization founded in 2013. Their mission is to support the art of dance through increased public exposure and the appreciation of movement as an innovative art form.

In the past, I’ve taken dance photos of members of the dance community that Presenting Denver features as part of their In the Spotlight series. This season, I took headshots for the spotlights, as well as the ambassadors for the organization. We did these portraits on the rooftop of the Beauvallon building, where the Presenting Denver offices are located. This location gave us some wonderful spots, with nature, architecture, and beautiful views of the city.

Dancer and Activist, Pi DuVal

Allegra “Pi” DuVal grew up dancing, performing, teaching, and choreographing in her mother’s dance studio in Crested Butte. Her passion for dance never faded and she now strives to use dance as a medium to spread kindness and solidarity.

One of the things that struck me most while I was reading Pi’s interview was her passion for giving back and activism in her community. If you’ve seen my new project, Dance Warriors, you know how important the intersection between politics, social justice, and the arts is to me. As Sutton Anker writes in her In the Spotlight interview, “Pi is involved with the Colfax Community Network teaching hip-hop to children of transient families and also teaches at Feel the Beat, a Denver area studio for the deaf and hard of hearing.” She also founded Dance is Love, in response to the rise in hate crimes during and after the 2016 election. They have performed for the Denver RAW Artist Showcase and are now the official dance company of Denver Pride Fest.

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Looking for a relaxed, fun headshot experience, with a lot of character? 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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Dancer and Photographer Francisco | Denver Headshot Photography

One of the ways in which I volunteer my time is by donating my Denver headshot photography to Presenting Denver. Presenting Denver is a non-profit organization founded in 2013. Their mission is to support the art of dance through increased public exposure and the appreciation of movement as an innovative art form.

In the past, I’ve taken dance photos of members of the dance community that Presenting Denver features as part of their In the Spotlight series. This season, I took headshots for the spotlights, as well as of ambassadors for the organizations. We did these portraits on the rooftop of the Beauvallon building, where the Presenting Denver offices are located. This location gave us some wonderful spots, with nature, architecture, and beautiful views of the city.

Dancer and Photographer Francisco | Denver Headshot Photography

One of the featured artists, I photographed was Francisco Estévez. Francisco is a dancer and dance photographer in Denver. He has been dancing since childhood, when he took ballet classes with his sister in his hometown of Quito, Ecuador. In his professional career, he has performed with companies around the world. Francisco now dances for Colorado Ballet with his wife, Tracy Jones. They have been with the company for five years.

As Ali Weeks writes in her In the Spotlight interview with Fransisco, “Francisco had long been interested in photography, and once he landed in Colorado, this interest deepened. He soon moved on from watching his peers rehearse and perform and began capturing moments of movement preserved long after the performance was over. Recently, Francisco completed his exquisite Shadows & Dust series.” This photography project later became a collaboration with local painter Darrell Anderson. The photographs and paintings are on display at the Colorado Ballet building.

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Looking for a relaxed, fun headshot experience, with a lot of character? Contact me 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

Amber on the High Line | New York Dance Photographer

The last time I was in New York City, I reconnected with a few friends from Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. I did dance sessions with three of them while I was in town and Amber was the last dance session I did before heading home. It was a little chilly, so we met in the Chelsea Market to look over outfits and plan everything out. Then, we went up to the High Line to start shooting!

The High Line is such an awesome urban trail. It’s an industrial/nature walk built on the old elevated train tracks and runs through Chelsea in Manhattan. The last time, I was there, they had only finished the first couple sections of it. The last part goes up to the water and overlooks a rail yard. It was really cool to see the whole thing completed.

Amber did an amazing job at this session. Of course, I knew she would because this isn’t the first time I’ve photographed her. She was my student spotlight during the Contemporary Program at Jacob’s Pillow. Check out that session here! These sessions were two and a half years apart so it was amazing to see her again and see how she’s grown as an artist.

In that time, she has graduated from Julliard and founded a dance non-profit, Art Belongs to People. She also just finished her role in the Cirque du Soleil show “Paramour” on Broadway. I got all sorts of gossip about life as a Broadway dancer. And she was learning some aerials skills from the other dancers while she was there. What an awesome woman!

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Want engaging dance portraits for you or your company? Find out more about Creative Sessions and email me at jamie@jamiekraus.com. I would love to help tell your story through dance and photography.