Nothing scandalous here. Just some pussy, sorry, artsy stuffs …
No clothes. No arrests. No regrets: Dancers After Dark
Dancers are known for their strong commitment to the art, working tirelessly to master a technique or memorize a combination of moves. What makes a dancer is this unparalleled sense of perseverance – a strength that cannot be overlooked. Jordan Matter, an internationally acclaimed photographer, captures the beauty of the performer in his latest book, Dancers After Dark. His collection of awe-inspiring photographs shot after dusk explore dancers lifting, leaping, kicking, and posing……in the nude.
Nikon D5 & Dancers After Dark
Shutterbug Magazine gave me the new Nikon D5 to test. I got four beautiful dancers to pose for Dancers After Dark in NYC. This video documents our adventures.
With Alana Allende, Zui Gomez & Reina Trifunovic (blurred nudity)
Alana Allende grew up in Wyckoff, New Jersey.
A graduate of LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, she attended Long Island University – Brooklyn Campus. She was an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Fellowship Recipient from 2003 to 2008, and performed Judith Jamison’s Hymn at the Ailey company’s 45th Anniversary Opening Night Gala.
As a company member of CityDance2 Ensemble in 2009-10, Ms. Allende toured to Bahrain, performed throughout Washington, DC, and helped bring dance to schools in the DC area through the company’s outreach program. She joined Taylor 2 in Summer 2010.
As a young child in Wyckoff, Alana Allende was signed up by her mom for everything — soccer, gymnastics, T-ball, dance. But at the very early age of about 6, her mother said there was a choice to be made between gymnastics and dance. Then she made it.
“She said I looked better dancing,” said Allende, 22, who took her first dance lessons at Lorraine Victoria in Hawthorne and will return to North Jersey Monday night as part of the Paul Taylor 2 Dance Company.
Once that decision was made — and all evidence says it was a pretty one — Allende took lessons at Wyckoff School of Dance, and at the prestigious Alvin Ailey School of Dance in Manhattan. She went to Wyckoff public schools through seventh grade, but left New Jersey for eighth grade in the city as part of her plan to make it to Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music and Arts and Performing Arts. After she auditioned and got into what is known as the “Fame” school, dancing became an even bigger part of her life.
During her high school years, she would perform and study at school, then walk to Alvin Ailey to dance some more. She danced six days a week.
“I was determined,” she said.
Since 2010, she has been part of this company that Allende calls “bite-sized.” Paul Taylor 2 has just six dancers, and they do much more than dance.
What Allende loves most is the impact she can have with the company, which is small enough to go to schools and hospitals and take trips around the world, exposing people to dance and finding a way to communicate with people who don’t speak her language.
“It’s beautiful to know that dance is a universal language,” she said.
Allende recalls a trip to India in her first year with the company when they went into schools and found ways to get the kids to understand.
The company was the first experience with Western dance for many people they encountered, and the reaction was unforgettable for Allende. “It was amazing,” she said. “A beautiful experience.” In the U.S., she watches at schools as “stubborn little boys” who want nothing to do with dance at the beginning of an assembly are asking the company to do more by the end. She remembers a trip to a children’s cancer hospital where she was told that a young girl said her first words in years after their performance.
“The little things like that make the most difference,” she said, adding that to know she may have inspired someone with her dance or given a child the dream of becoming a dancer, “what more can you ask for?”
Zultari (Zui) Gomez was born in Dominican Republic and raised in Miami, FL.
Zui received her BFA in Dance from the Boston Conservatory where she performed classics by Martha Graham and Jose Limón.
She has danced with Zest Collective, Miami Contemporary Dance Company, DanceNOW! Ensemble, Nejla Yatkin, ArmitageGone! Dance as well as Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre in APAP.
Zui has appeared in Cabaret and Chicago with the Entr’Acte Theatrix Production Company in Fort Lauderdale.
Zui has worked with Ballet Hispanico & Ballet Hispanico Dos, Collage Dance Collective, RuddurDance Company, as well as alongside Jamar Roberts (former Alvin Ailey company member) in his premiere ‘Veil’ in Miami.
She is currently based out of New York City.
Born and raised in The Netherlands, Reina Trifunovic was 9 years old when she started her professional training with The National Ballet Academy in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, led by Vicki Summers.
After 8 years of pre-college, she joined the college program led by Christopher Powney. Before attending the Juilliard School in 2013, she had a pleasure traveling the world and attended summer dance programs such as Netherlands Dance Theater Summer Intensive, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, London Royal Ballet Summer Intensive, Bolshoi Ballet Summer Intensive and the Rosella Hightower Summer School.
Some of her favorite experiences include perfoming works by Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon, Sharon Eyal, Gustavo Ramirez, Didy Veldman, Jose Limon, Ohad Naharin and Hans van Manen.
During her years at The Juilliard School she had a pleasure performing both new works as existing works from Takehiro Ueyama, Loni Landon, Zvi Gotheiner, Matthew Neenan, Merce Cunningham and Jiří Kylián.
Michaela DePrince: Dancers After Dark Cover Shoot
Michaela DePrince talks about the process of shooting naked in public and inspiring black ballerinas. Video by Sandy Chase.
Michaela DePrince was born in war-torn Sierra Leone during the country’s decade-long civil war. Rebels killed her father, and shortly after her mother died of fever and starvation.
Michaela had vitiligo, a disease that causes patches of skin to lose its color. In Michaela’s native land vitiligo was considered a curse of the devil. This caused her uncle to abandon her at an orphanage. There she was taunted and abused by the women who cared for the children. They called her the devil’s child.
One day Michaela found a magazine blowing in the wind. On its cover was a photograph of a beautiful ballerina en pointe. Once Michaela saw this she found hope and determination to one day become just like that ballerina. Soon after the discovery of the magazine, an American family adopted Michaela, and she became the eighth of their eleven children, nine of whom were adopted.
Michaela’s new parents recognized her talent for ballet. They enrolled her in ballet classes and supported her passion for the art. While attending the Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre, Michaela worked hard to develop her skills so that she could overcome stereotypes of conventional beauty and racial barriers in the world of ballet.
After Michaela was featured in the ballet documentary, First Position, Michaela debuted professionally as a guest principal at the Joburg Ballet in South Africa and appeared on Dancing with the Stars. At the age of seventeen Michaela performed with the Dance Theatre of Harlem professional company. At eighteen she joined the Dutch National Junior Company as a second-year member and apprentice to the main company. Now at the age of twenty-one, Michaela has completed her second year with the main company, and has been promoted to the rank of Grand Sujet for the Dutch National Ballet’s main company for the 2016-2017 ballet season.
Besides dancing, Michaela loves reaching out to disadvantaged young people, with whom she shares her message of hard work, perseverance and hope, in order to encourage them to strive for a dream. In 2016 she was named an Ambassador for War Child Netherlands.
In 2013 Michaela collaborated with her mother to write her memoir. This was published as the young adult book, TAKING FLIGHT by Knopf Books in 2014.
Since then Michaela’s memoir has been published under different titles in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Brazil, Japan, Korea, and Poland. Michaela also worked with her mother on BALLERINA DREAMS, a Random House Children’s Step-into-Reading book for young readers between the ages of six and eight years old.
Demetia Hopkins-Greene: ‘Never Stop’ Dancers After Dark
A video about the dedication it takes to pursue a career of passion. Featuring Demetia Hopkins-Greene of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Demetia Hopkins-Green (Orange, VA) began her dance training at the Orange School of Performing Arts under the direction of her uncle, Ricardo Porter, and Heather Powell.
She has studied at the National Youth Ballet of Virginia; Virginia School of the Arts; the Summer Dance International Course in Burgos, Spain; The Rock School; and Dance Theatre of Harlem School.
Ms. Hopkins-Greene graduated with honors from the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program in Dance in 2009 and was a recipient of a Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts in 2011. Ms. Hopkins-Greene was a member of Ailey II and a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from 2010 to 2016.
Her uncle taught the painfully shy girl to dance.
Until she was 12 years old and her mother got married and had three more children, Demetia Hopkins-Greene grew up an only child in a quiet, close-knit community in Orange, Va. There wasn’t much to do in the little town about 30 miles northeast of Charlottesville. But her uncle’s dance studio, where Greene started studying at age 4, was the ideal beginning for where she would end up.
The discipline and shaping of her talent eventually led Greene to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, one of the premier dance companies in the country. She and others in the troupe will perform at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk tonight through Sunday as part of the Virginia Arts Festival.
“My uncle trained me for sure, but my mother really pushed me,” says Greene, who’s 28. “I don’t know. She’s more than words can say.”
Although she had been dancing most of her life, Greene wasn’t sure about pursuing it as a career until she was about to leave Orange for college. She attended Fordham University in New York, where she earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in dance in 2009.
“It was just something I absolutely loved to do,” Greene says, calling from her home in New York City. “I was a quiet child. My husband jokes that I was basically mute when he met me. I express myself better through movement sometimes than through words.”
Her reticence belies her grace and explosiveness on stage. In 2010, Greene joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, an experience that has taken her far beyond the quaint town of Orange.
“I have traveled the world more than I ever thought I would,” Greene says. “Being around these people has made me challenge myself, and in many way has taught me how to be a woman. These are people who really care about what they do and care about you. I’ve been really blessed to be in a place that has developed my art form as well as my character.”
Greene is quiet for a moment. “Performing in front of people every night, you have to have a certain self-assurance,” she says. “I’m sure of myself when I step out onto that stage. Learning that I have a lot of insecurities to overcome and figuring out what would make me better has made me a stronger person.”
Returning to Virginia to perform with the company that has been so instrumental in pulling her out of her shell gives Greene a new sense of accomplishment.
“There’s always a certain comfort and pride when you’re dancing in front of people you know,” Greene says. “There are a lot of values that this company presents to the community. It’s not just about the legs and the physicality of it. It’s giving back. It’s a homecoming.”
Why I Danced Naked in the Middle of a City Street
Professional dancer Demetia (De-Meet-Ah) Hopkins-Greene, 29, began her career at age 4, when she started training at her uncle’s studio in Virginia. Although she practiced jazz, ballet, hip-hop, tap, and even Irish step, ultimately landing an eight-year tenure dancing with the Alvin Ailey Dance Companies, she’d never dabbled in nude dancing until she was approached by famed photographer Jordan Matter for a book project known as Dancers After Dark.
Here’s how the self-proclaimed introvert found herself posing naked in the middle of New York City’s Fifth Avenue.
Q: You’ve never modeled naked before, so what made you agree to do it?
In New York City a few months later, Jordan reached out to me, and I agreed to pose again. We did a shot in front of a hotel near the Apple store right on Fifth Avenue, and it’s featured in the book.
Q: Were you really 100 percent naked?
Q: Logistically, how does a nude public photo shoot work?
I go fully dressed wearing a long coat. Once we choose the location, Jordan and his team sets up the lighting, we practice the pose, and within 15 or 20 minutes, we’re ready to take the shot. For the New York City photo you see in the book, we shot outside a hotel where the doorman there let me get undressed right inside. I went out wearing nothing but my winter coat and boots. When Jordan was ready, I stripped, kicked off my boots, and ran toward the spot where lighting was set up. It was cold out there, so I did as many jumps as I could in 30 seconds to give Jordan as many shots as he could grab, and then ran back to put my boots and coat back on while he looked at the shots he got. I probably did that about three times, and three more times when we went out to recreate the moment to make this video:
Q: What exactly does it feel like to be photographed naked? Were you self-conscious at all or embarrassed about your body?
Q: Did you get any crazy responses from strangers when they saw you dancing naked on the street?
During the first New York City shoot, it was a January night before a big blizzard and the streets were pretty quiet. People stopped and stared and pointed, but nothing really wild happened. I heard people threw bottles at another group of dancers who posed for Jordan in Paris, but for the most part, I think people saw it as art and beauty. Even the doorman in New York was really nice and gave me some gloves to warm my hands.
Q: Do you exercise or eat differently before you know you’re going to be photographed naked?
Q: How did the photos make you feel about your body?
Q: Were you worried about how your family and friends would react to seeing your nude photos?
When I first told my husband about the project, he was supportive about me doing it, but I waited until the week before the book came out to tell my mom and uncle because I didn’t know how they would respond to the nudity. My mom thought the photos were beautiful and artistic, and when I called my uncle the day the video came out, he said he absolutely loved it, then he asked if he could share it online. It definitely wasn’t the response I was expecting. Generally, people who saw it told me I was so brave. It was encouraging, especially because I’d been so unsure about doing it and made myself be brave — or pretend to be brave.
Q: Would you ever pose naked again?
9 Ballerinas. 18 Pointe Shoes. 0 Clothes.
“I will have a conversation with the police, and none of you speaks English.” How we got the most ambitious Dancers After Dark photograph of my career. Video by Sandy Chase.
with Carson Michura, Anastasia Bez, Melissa Weber, Keely Ancrile, Jillian Davis, Katie Garcia, Reina Trifunovic, Daisy Kate Jacobson, Morgan Thweatt
Carson Michura, a New Jersey native, started her ballet training at The Princeton Ballet School at the age of 12.
She is an ABT® Certified Teacher who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
She has attended summer programs at Miami City Ballet, Boston Ballet and American Ballet Theatre.
At the age of 16 she was accepted into North Carolina School of the Arts under Dean Ethan Stiefel and continued her training there until she graduated in 2011. While at NCSA, she performed in works such as Ethan Stiefel’s revision of The Nutcracker and George Balanchine’s Symphonie Concertante.
Michura was a trainee for American Repertory Ballet during their 2011-2012 season. Afterwards, she received a full merit scholarship to Point Park University where she earned a BFA in dance.
She now attends Rutgers University where she is working towards her EdM in dance education.
Jillian Davis  is from rural roots in Kutztown, PA, where her parents placed her in dance classes starting at age 3.
Discovering a love of ballet immediately and being recognized for her talent at an early age, teachers and mentors lead her to more serious ballet training.
Jillian was lucky enough to study at some of the countries most prestigious ballet schools, including Pacific Northwest Ballet, Alonzo Kind LINES Ballet, School of American Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet.
After Jillian expressed her continued interest in choreography while dancing in San Francisco, director Frederick Gaudette, whom she was working with, asked her to create a piece on a member of his company. Fluid Interference was premiered in August 2012, establishing Jillian’s unique style and showing how she works directly with the music.
After her choreographic premiere, Jillian was asked to create a piece at her former studio, Princeton Dance and Theater Studio, for a talented student competing in YAGP. She was also asked to be a guest artist and choreographer at Missouri Valley College for the 2013-2014 school year. City Living (remix) was shown at the school’s spring performance February 2014.
Jillian decided to start Jillian Davis Dance Project (JDDP) when she was selected as a finalist at Rider University’s Emerging Choreographers Competition, where she presented her newest ensemble work, Tiel. While continuing her professional dance career, Jillian aims to continue creating new works and also allow dancers interested in their own choreography to explore their thoughts and possibilities.
Jillian joined Complexions Contemporary Ballet 2014.
Katie Garcia  is a native of Miami, Florida. Katie Garcia is now attending her fourth year at The Juilliard School. A graduate of New World School of the Arts High School, Katie began her training at nine years old. Well versed in both ballet and contemporary modern styles, she is also trained in Latin ballroom.
Katie Garcia was 3 years old when she started dancing ballet, and the sophomore psychology major said it’s not just a hobby for her, but it’s part of her life.
“Dancing my whole life does come with sacrifices,” Katie Garcia says. “I spend most my days practicing and working on my technique in the studio. Although it’s hard to balance dance, school and a social life, I wouldn’t trade ballet for the world.”
The ballerina began and continues her ballet career at Ballet Etudes Company of South Florida, the same studio her mother, Kim Garcia, danced for. Currently, she is rehearsing for her studio’s 42nd annual production of “The Nutcracker”, where she will perform as the lead role Clara.
Because it is performance season, the ballerina practices six days a week for about four hours or more a day. With rigorous practice, a dancer must fuel their bodies properly and stay hydrated, so Katie Garcia sticks to a strict diet that gives her energy and keeps her fit.
“I prepare a lot of home cooked meals for Katie to make sure everything she is eating is organic and good for her,” Kim Garcia said. “A healthy and light pasta dish is good before her long rehearsals; carbohydrates give athletes energy.”
In addition to eating well, the dancer also works out regularly outside of ballet class. Katie Garcia does a series of core workouts at home such as pilates and yoga. This not only builds muscle, but she said it helps her with balance and flexibility.
“I am constantly improving my technique and body for the art,” the ballerina said. “With the Nutcracker right around the corner, I need to be conscious of my health so I can perform to the best of my ability. Ballet for me is truly a way of life.”
Some of us know at an early age, and some of us never have a clue.
“In the first grade,” says Daisy Jacobson, “we had to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I remember drawing a stage with red curtains, and then a ballerina in the middle.”
Ten or twelve years later, that ballerina now dancing to applause is Daisy Jacobson herself.
Finding a job and choosing a career can resemble a roller coaster ride for many people but for Jacobson it’s sort of like she stepped into an elevator and pushed the button for the highest floor. She’s just 18, but right about now she’s in Washington, D.C., for the Presidential Scholars National Recognition Weekend, attending the Medallion Ceremony (with President Obama on hand), performing at the Kennedy Center, and meeting with her representatives in Congress , Henry Waxman – well, our representatives too since Jacobson lives locally, in Manhattan Beach. She’s lived there her entire life.
That’s the impressive culmination of a career that’s essentially not even started. Jacobson enters Julliard later this summer, where she’ll hone her skills in both modern dance and classical ballet, before seeking a position with one of this country’s prestigious dance companies.
But in this flurry of excitement we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
“I just remember always dancing,” Jacobson says. At three or four years of age her parents enrolled her in a pre-ballet class, “and I came to South Bay Ballet when I was seven. That’s when I had my first ballet class, and it was with Diane Lauridsen.”
South Bay Ballet, long under Lauridsen’s guidance, is located in Old Torrance. The company presents three productions a year at El Camino College or the James Armstrong Theatre.
Jacobson attended Rolling Hills Country Day School and then Chadwick, also in Rolling Hills. Her twin sister, Camille, was also dancing at an accomplished level until about a year ago. Does Camille plan to pursue a career in dancing as well? No, she wants to be a writer and will soon pack her bags for Harvard.
How did Daisy Jacobson end up as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts?
A couple of years ago she entered a local arts competition called the Spotlight Awards and became a semi-finalist. Impressed by her abilities, the folks at Spotlight suggested she apply to YoungArts. She sent them a video and a month later they informed her that she was one of 152 artists (in genres ranging from theater to film) chosen to compete during YoungArts Week.
“I met so many amazing artists and became close with all of the dancers,” she says. A few weeks later Jacobson became a YoungArts winner and was awarded the Level 1 scholarship prize in dance. Later she was notified that she’d been one of 60 artists from YoungArts nominated to apply for the honor of Presidential Scholar.
“I completed a long application of essays and forms during one of the most crucial times of my high school career,” she says. “It was stressful. I’m lucky I’m good at time management.”
Years passed, decades passed – or so it may have seemed. Then came the announcement that Jacobson was a semi-finalist. Three more weeks went by and then – on her 18th birthday, Daisy Jacobson learned that she was one of those rarities among rarity, a Presidential Scholar in the Arts.
More applause for the girl on stage with red curtains.
Daisy Jacobson may have butterflies in her stomach, but what aspiring artist doesn’t? “I never doubted that I wanted to do it,” she says of her dancing; “I doubted if I could do it.” But then, that’s why we practice, and practice, and rehearse.
One might think that Jacobson looks forward to dance competitions since she excels in them, but in general that’s not the case.
“I think that the spirit of the art form gets lost, because it becomes more (like) gymnastics. It becomes more about how high you can jump… It’s all about the tricks. Besides,” she adds, “you can work on a variation or a solo your whole life and make it perfect, but then if you get new choreography that’s actually what matters. Because when you dance you’re not practicing the same routine over and over again for three months before you put it on stage. You have to have all the skills necessary to do everything, and versatility is really, really important.”
This is one reason she’s excited to be attending Julliard, right there at Lincoln Center in New York City. It’s a four-year program with a curriculum that will immerse Jacobson both in ballet and modern dance. “It’s kind of a shift from what I’m doing now,” she says, “which is mostly ballet. But I like both equally, so I think it’s the perfect place.”
When she finishes her schooling she’ll be even more graceful than she is now. At that point she’ll be recruited by a professional dance company or else she’ll audition for one.
“That’s definitely what I want to do,” Daisy Jacobson says. “That’s the next step after Julliard.”
Dancers After Dark in Paris
“Why is this guy throwing glass at us? Do I need to fight? Where are my underwear?” Sean Aaron Carmon during three nights of naked adventures with Alvin Ailey dancers in Paris. Video by Gin Pineau. Edit by Sandy Chase.
with Ghrai DeVore, Renee Lee, Claudia Mesyasz
Ghrai DeVore  of Washington, DC began her formal dance training at the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center and was a scholarship student at The Ailey School. She has completed summer programs at the Kirov Academy, Ballet Chicago, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, and Alonzo King LINES Ballet.
Ms. DeVore was a member of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater 2, Hubbard Street 2, Dance Works Chicago, and Ailey II. She is a recipient of the Danish Queen Ingrid Scholarship of Honor and the Dizzy Feet Foundation Scholarship, and she was a 2010 nominee for the first annual Clive Barnes Award.
Ms. DeVore joined the Company in 2010.
Renee Lee is from San Francisco, California and began her dance training at Contra Costa Ballet.
She has attended summer programs at San Francisco Ballet, School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, American Ballet Theatre NY, Miami City Ballet, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. She has also trained, performed, and competed in classical Chinese dance while winning many first-place titles, awards and scholarships. Renee studied both World Arts and Cultures-Dance and Statistics at UCLA. After a 6-month internship in the banking industry in San Francisco, she joined Robert Moses’ Kin for their 21st season.
Renee has had the opportunities to perform works by George Balanchine, Marius Petipa, Merce Cunningham, Robert Moses, Jessica Lang, Charles Anderson, James Sofranko, and many others. This is her first year with Visceral Dance Chicago.