In many ways today’s post is very different from my previous entries, there aren’t images from areas of abject poverty and geographically speaking it relates to something much closer to home.
It was just over a year ago when I was interviewed by Heber Vega as a humanitarian photographer on his 10Q series, one of the comments on the post asked how many humanitarian photographers do this type of work within their own country. At the time I had to admit that I’d done very little within the UK but it was something I needed to be open to. Recently, I was approached by someone quite local to me asking if I’d be willing to capture the work she was doing in her community. Embody Dance was formed by Emma Breeze and her dream was to make dance accessible to out-of-reach environments within the community, she simply wanted everyone to be allowed the chance to dance. As a hugely talented and qualified dance teacher, Emma could easily have chosen a more traditional path, instead she decided to work with those who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to dance, the disabled, elderly, young and inexperienced. She teaches 22 classes each week, ranging from children of 3 years through to more mature adults of 80 years plus, reaching 450 dancers throughout the various sessions.
At a personal level it was such a heartwarming experience to work with the various Embody Dance groups. I won’t forget one of the Tiger Feet classes, many of the participants have Down syndrome or other learning difficulties. I was greeted with so many hugs, these people had never met me before, nor I them and yet their openness and warmth was incredibly refreshing. During my two days of filming and photography I’d never seen so many people laughing, smiling and having a great time together. Emma’s work is certainly inspiring.
In my opinion, the work of Embody Dance is just as important as what many aid organisations do around the world. As a member of IGVP (International Guild of Visual Peacemakers), an organisation dedicated to peacemaking, breaking down stereotypes and displaying the beauty of all cultures, I feel my work with Embody Dance fits nicely into this ethos. It was so good to be able to do something for someone closer to home, someone who is making such a difference within the community. My hope is that the video and images will enable Embody Dance to reach a wider audience and communicate its fantastic work.
So here’s the video piece I produced, along with a handful of photos taken from the various sessions. I need to give credit to my wife Linda who accompanied me on the two days of shooting as most of the photos taken were actually hers.