Dancer Spotlight - Ash Williams

Ash Williams started dancing in 2011 at age 7, in Southern Oregon at Ashland Dance Works.   Ash became a more serious dancer after seeing a performance at Northwest Dance Project in 2017.  After dancing on zoom for almost 2 years through the pandemic, Ash graduated high school early to move to Portland and continue training at dance studios and dance schools in Portland: Open Space Dance, Bodyvox Dance Center, and Northwest Dance Project Studio.  Ash is now attending Columbia College Chicago for a degree in Dance and Musical Theatre.

In the past years I’ve worked with Ash for their dance audition photos and photos for college application.  I’ve always enjoyed their energy, talent, and getting to see them grow as a person and as an artist has been a very rewarding experience.  I want to wish them the best in Chicago! 💪⭐

Celebrate the harvest moon

Did you see the harvest moon last night?    It is the perfect time for me to share some dancing-with-the-moon images here. 

In my work of dance photography, I place great importance in creating context and layers to help establish the mood of a photograph and invite audience to view it as an unfolding scene/story rather than a single action.   Therefore, in my recent creative dance photoshoot with Xuan Cheng and Brian Simcoe  (the principal dancers from Oregon Ballet Theater), we explored the idea of dancing with the moon.   Here are two of the resulting images with different energies. 

A dance photograph of Xuan Cheng, the principal dancer with Oregon Ballet Theater, dancing with the moon, by award-winning Portland dance photographer Jingzi Zhao.
A dance photograph of Brian Simcoe, the principal dancer with Oregon Ballet Theater, dancing with the moon, by award-winning Portland dance photographer Jingzi Zhao.

The ethnicity in dance photography - working with an African dancer

I met Ola @afreakano through prior dance clients who are in hiphop and African dance.  Ola is a dancer trained in a variety of different techniques and styles, including classical training, but takes heart to dances like Afrobeat and Bata, from his origins in Nigeria, West Africa.   Ola is joining @rejoicediasporadance, a Portland-based contemporary African dance ensemble, for the 2022-2023 season. 

It’s a very stimulating experience working with dancers from different ethnic background.  We discussed the feels we want to get across, the costumes, and the color choices to support our goal.   During the shoot, whenever I proposed a small variation that I felt would look good on camera, I kept asking Ola, “Do you do this in your style of African dance?“ as I want to make sure the movement doesn’t become something else.  Ola helped me understand more about Afrobeat and what they share in common with the broader contemporary dance world.  Dance photography is such an intentional and evolved process, especially for what we do in studio: it is not a capture.  We evolve the movement to make it look good in a still photograph, convey emotions, and also hopefully maintain the authenticity of the dance and the personality of the dancer. It’s a tall order that we strive for in every shoot. 

Here are some shots from our shoot.  More to come!

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