Ballet News Reviews | dancers after dark by Jordan Matter
- 300 dancers
- 400 locations
- 150 photographs
- 7 countries
- 20-30 seconds to nail the shot
- 0 clothes
- 0 arrests
- 0 digital manipulation
This is not just a book. Oh no, dancers after dark is your daily dose of unbridled JOY!
A bold statement, but a true one.
The sheer effervescence fizzing from every page is palpable. The dancers were unstoppable in their enthusiasm; you can see that they’re enjoying themselves, despite the many challenges.
But: the photographer is Jordan Matter and those of you familiar with his work (and those dancers who have been photographed by him) will know this already – he is fearless. You’ll find him wherever there is rain, preferably drenching and persistent. If there’s snow, so much the better, and if there are fountains or lakes, well….. he’ll definitely be there. And, so will the dancers. Unfazed by traffic, people or police, the dancers race into position for the perfect shot – time after time.
The dancers’ enthusiasm for posing hundreds of times in often extreme conditions is one thing – but in dancers after dark, they are NAKED. In public. In the snow/rain/traffic. Consider that these shoots were often dangerous, always crazy, perhaps illegal and certainly exhausting. Matter doesn’t plan his shoots – he trusts that serendipity will pull everything together, so he scouts for locations with the dancers and then goes for it. It’s his process, and he stays true to it always.
Having practiced the poses clothed, they had 20-30 seconds to disrobe and get into position before one of several things happened : the scene changed in some way or the police showed up. In the image below, taken in Times Square, New York at 4.20am, you can see the police car behind the dancer. At the end of the book there are some behind the scenes stories, including this one, where the cops never got out of their car – too wet, perhaps ? The dancer, however, posed 500 times for this shot, on a rickety table, in the rain, en pointe.
The shortest shoot – 3 seconds – is awarded to the dancer who stood en pointe, on top of a wine bottle. I’m not even kidding.
All of the photographs were taken between sunset and dawn, and when it was time for Matter to pose naked with the dancers ? No problem.
Themed in four chapters – ferocity (as in, an uncontrollable passion), stability, vulnerability and ecstasy – dancers after dark achieves exactly what Matter intended – the photographs absolutely convey the immense thrill and joy of being a part of this project.
Scattered throughout the book are illuminating quotes, such as, “if everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough” (Mario Andretti) and “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself” (George Bernard Shaw).
I reviewed Matter’s first book, dancers among us, and I’ve been a supporter of his work since the beginning, because it is extraordinary, and who doesn’t want that in their day?