Dancers Among Us: Photographs by Jordan Matter
October 17, 2015 – January 17, 2016

Jordan Matter. Dancers Among Us (Meghan G. Meehan at the Hudson River Museum, October 2014). Courtesy of the artist


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Dancers leap and move in everyday settings to show us moments that we all live in joy, love, silence, grief, curiosity.

Video - Dancers Among Us: Jordan Matter - Making the Shot

Jordan Matter’s stunning photographs appear at Hudson River Museum Fall 2015 in the exhibition Dancers Among Us.

          The first solo museum exhibition for Matter in the United States, it contains over 30 images — photographs from his acclaimed book Dancers Among Us: A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday; new images from his upcoming book Tiny Dancers Among Us, and new photographs of dancers in our region.

The exhibition, which fills three galleries, contains videos shot during Matter’s photo shoots. First is a video montage of the dancers’ leaping; in another gallery, a video shows his dynamic working process; and, finally the 12-minute video Finding Serendipity, which chronicles the search by Matter and the dancers for the perfect place for the perfect pose.
        Matter photographs dancers off stage and in unexpected places — no computer manipulation allowed. The world is his studio — its streets, libraries, playing fields, coffee shops, and highways. For Matter, the heart of dance is best captured outside in bustling city streets or juxtaposed with rural nature.
       Starting his career as a portrait photographer, Matter soon turned his interest to dance as he watched his children’s joy at play — an exuberance he wanted to carry over in photographs of adults. As he wrote in his book, Dancers Among Us: "Dancers are.... trained to capture passion with their bodies. They often create a fantasy world or offer us a deeper look into familiar stetting." Some of his most mind-boggling images, which Diane Sawyer (ABC World News) called “breathtaking photos to free your imagination.
         Matter’s photographs fall into three themes: Soaring, Stretching and Serendipity. In Soaring, from the Hudson River to city park fountains, Matter uses the visual and close proximate link of the leaping dancer and moving water. In Stretching, the dancers’ dramatic poses of strength and stillness evoke a more contemplative mood. It occurred to Matter early on that the heart of dance might best be captured outside of performance. The last section highlights his locations—from bustling city streets to more serene riverbanks and park fountains, where the dancers revel in the beauties of nature and which enable Matter to take advantage of the special qualities of light and motion.

Dancers Among Us: Photographs by Jordan Matter is organized by the Hudson River Museum.




Two Dance Photographers
Barbara Morgan and Jordan Matter



On the occasion of the exhibition Dancers Among Us, the photographs by contemporary photographer Jordan Matter,the Museum presents the photographs of another dance photographer, Barbara Morgan, from its collection.
          Barbara Morgan is best known for images of famed dancer Martha Graham and her dance company of the 1930s and 1940s. Jordan Matter photographs dancers from many companies and countries.
          Morgan and Matter capture the movement of the dancer outside of the performance.
        For Barbara Morgan the stage was her studio in Edgemont, where she looked for the perfect moment to frame the image. She told Aperture magazine, It was necessary to redirect, relight, and photographically synthesize what I felt to be the core of the total dance.
          For Jordan Matter the moment and the message of dance is everywhere his dancers happen to be — on a city street, in a cookie shop or a subway station. Matter prizes light as it is, he does not direct it. It’s amazing how many of my photos have happened because I was drawn to a light source of something. Some visual interest that I had that was specifically about the light.


Barbara Morgan Dance Photographer


At age five, my whimsical-philosophical father, holding a green leaf in his hand, said, ‘This leaf is not moving, but millions of atoms are dancing inside it, and atoms are dancing in everything in the world!’
          So began Morgan's lifelong fascination with movement and dance.
          Barbara Morgan (1900-1992) was inspired to photograph modern dance at a commemoration for Isadora Duncan, where she was shocked by the lack of images that should have recorded the famous dancer. Though Barbara Morgan felt compelled to document modern dance, she wanted to create more than a visual record. She wanted to capture the essence of the human spirit expressed in dance and to reveal the presence of energy in the soul and the physical body.
          With a 4 x 5 handheld Speed Graphic camera and a Leica camera, Morgan began photographing dancers in 1938. For a decade she shot thousands of images but not during staged performances. Instead, Morgan meticulously planned her shoots in empty theaters or her studio. Controlling the settings of her camera, such as its shutter speed, she was able to freeze motion and suspend the dancer in midair forever.
          To truly understand the content of a dance, Morgan studied  dancers at rehearsals and performances. Her memory of a dance stayed with her for weeks and even months, before she tried to communicate the meaning of the dance in an image of a single defining moment — the moment that evokes the emotion of the dance.


December 6     1 pm  
Gallery Tour of Barbara Morgan Photographs
with Choreographer Maxine Sherman