"Hidden Beneath Your Elegance"
digital photography series
In my photography series, "Hidden Beneath Your Elegance," I share the stories of ballet dancers who, beneath the beauty and grace of the art form, are struggling with physical health or mental obstacles to their ability to dance. The concept behind this series was inspired by my own experiences with ballet––diagnosed with a heart condition that put an end to my pre-professional ballet career, initially wanting to suppress the negative feelings, and continuing to dance like nothing was wrong. As I matured, I learned the power that comes from vulnerability and chose to channel my story to empower others who had gone through similar experiences.
The first dancer, Elexi, suffers from Crohn’s disease. The process of developing this series consisted of interviewing Elexi to first understand her story and what she goes through so that I can be sure I am helping her tell her truth in an honest and thoughtful manner. The details that I thought about in setting up and taking these photos come from understanding that Crohn’s is a disorder of the stomach, that it is a medical condition that makes patients prone to frequent injuries, and that she is prescribed daily doses of medication. I draw attention to her stomach through the poses in which she is clenching or bent over her core, I show her injuries by highlighting her cast and her scar, and I draw attention to her prescription bottle to show what she goes through that is hidden from the view of others when she is dancing and living her daily life. All of the photos are centered around Elexi in unique dance positions with her ballet uniform to show that she is still dancing, with the photos either showing the deeper emotion in what she is going through, or accentuating and bringing attention to the negatives in a glorifying way to show the beauty in her story and to inspire others, including myself. Her story symbolizes the strength that she has gained by continuing to do what she loves despite being knocked down many times. Many of the pieces in this series are self-portraits, illustrating the anguish that comes from limitations, my strong will to dance despite the risk, and my nostalgia and reflection on the experience. Individually, each of these photos express a vivid emotion, but together, this whole series tells two complete stories.