Have you ever noticed how little children can abandon all their cares and become completely absorbed in a fantasy world? Kids are completely present in whatever they are doing. They experience emotions similar to adults, but display their feelings honestly. If a child is upset, he or she will cry and whine until it is better. Although some people may find this honesty annoying, I think it is part of the beauty of childhood. Several years ago, an artist named Jordan Matter realized the same thing. He realized that adults often seem cynical, bored, or indifferent to the everyday wonders that capture children’s imagination. He wanted to find a way to portray the active presence children take in their world through art. His solutions: dancers. (To read more about how this idea came to Jordan, read here.)
Jordan Matter created the now-sensational book of “Dancers Among Us.” It features dozens of pictures of dancers around the world at various stages of life and various emotions. The common factor for all of the pictures is their life. Matter captured dancers truly living in whatever they were doing. For the rest of this blog post, I will show examples of these pictures and analyze their individual messages.
This photograph features a man and a woman under a boardwalk as the tide is rushing out and frothing around them. The woman, standing on the man’s thighs as he hinges forward, bends backward over herself to kiss him on the lips. I think this picture beautifully captures the leap of faith people take in falling in love. The water is choppy and strong; it rises around them. The water represents all the instability and risks in life that will rise around all of us. The dancers, however, are steadfast despite the tide. They are precariously posed, yet strong. This represents how loving someone requires trust that your partner will be there to hold you up, and that you will be there for him or her, too. The precariousness of their position represents that this stability comes from instability: to find support and balance from love, one must take the risk first.
This photo features a man holding onto a scaffolding and dangling over the city street; however, he strongly holds an arabesque with a paintbrush in his hand. The quote that accompanies this photo is: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” For most rational human beings, climbing up onto a scaffolding several stories above the ground would instill fear. We are uncomfortable at such a height. The dancer, however, exudes confidence and strength. His power in this unsettling position sends the message that in order to reach such a heightened sense of accomplishment and confidence, one must take risks and “live at the end of his or her comfort zone.”
If you are interested in seeing additional pictures from the collection, click here.