Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 19: We Be Dancing Fools

It's Day 19 in our 24 Days of Books, and we feel like dancing all around the store. Wouldn't it be cool if you were just walking down NE Broadway and out of nowhere someone began dancing, I mean really dancing, when you least expected it? Wouldn't that make you smile? You probably wouldn't be able to help yourself. Even if you'd been feeling a little dour or grumpy (not that that ever happens to me), you wouldn't be able to hold back a happy turn-up of the lips, or perhaps even a guffaw.

So imagine a whole book of such things. That's what photographer Jordan Matter started by asking a member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company to dance for him in a place where dance is unexpected. So, dressed in a commuter's suit and tie, the dancer flew across a Times Square subway platform. And in that image Matter found what he'd been searching for: a way to express the feeling of being fully alive in the moment, unselfconscious, present.

Organized around themes of work, play, love, exploration, dreaming, and more, the book Dancers Among Us celebrates life in a way that's fresh, surprising, pure, and joyful. There's no photoshopping here, no trampolines, no gimmicks, no tricks. Just a photographer, his vision, and the serendipity of what happens when the shutter clicks. The book presents one thrilling photograph after another of dancers leaping, spinning, lifting, kicking, but in the midst of daily life: on the beach, at a construction site, in a library, a restaurant, a park. With each image, the reader feels more optimistic, elated even, eager to see the next bit of magic. One reviewer wrote: "I wonder, if we could see into people's souls, would we see them dancing just like this?" 

Jordan Matters's grandparents were a photographer and a painter, his parents a filmmaker and a model. He began his career as a baseball player, but after seeing a Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit he started taking pictures as a hobby. His hobby turned into a passion, and soon into a career as a portrait photographer. His Dancers Among Us project continues on his website. Here's a taste of what the book has to offer:


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