The Perfect Actors
Are Dancers

Actors are part of Jordan Matter’s storytelling arsenal. His photography is not about dance; it is about the dancer and the dancer’s talent and skills that, over and over, express the photographer’s vision.
          Matter believes dancers offer us a deeper look into familiar settings, and pairing light and color with targeted timing, he creates an environment where the dancer like, and yet unlike, ourselves experiences what we see and do.
          Just as dancers prepare their bodies and minds for their art, Jordan Matter is prepared to create honest photographs that impress us without recourse to tricks of post-production computer editing.
          On a Matter photo shoot the photographer and his models understand each other’s work ethic. Each moment of excitement results from hours of perseverance, an exchange of ideas, expended energy, and always, patience. Whether his dancers leap into the air for 10 or 100 “takes,” Matter and his dancers make the final image look spontaneous, cloaking effort with grace, just as dancers onstage do.

 

VIP Treatment | Marcella Guarino
New York, New York 2011

I’d been trying for months to make this shot happen.
         Marcella often flies by helicopter to the Hamptons, so she made a few calls. Late the night before the shoot, we got thumbs up: Heliflite would loan us a helicopter for twenty minutes! If we went over, we’d have to pay a $10,000 rental fee. I knew I wanted Marcella to look like a socialite on her way to the Hamptons but my idea was still incomplete and I couldn’t put my finger on the missing element, until I turned and saw a pilot straight out of central casting —now the shot could be complete. Dripping in the sweltering heat, Marcella did 30 standing jumps in five minutes. As we were patting ourselves on the back for getting the shot so quickly, the pilot asked, How about this aircraft carrier floating by? Might look good in the background. Fleet Week was ending and the sailors were passing. We had five minutes to get them in the shot. Marcella shifted back into gear, propelled by the drama of the moment. We finished in time and the setting was unbelievable. An aircraft carrier passes that heliport only twice a year, and we were there to capture it.

Jordan Matter

Rush Hour | Karli Dinardo
New York, New York 2014

It’s amazing how many of my photos happen because I am drawn to a source of light. I took this photo, one of my favorites, on a day spent in Midtown Manhattan with a dancer and a circus performer. We moved as we wanted around the city and this became our “spontaneous process” to find interesting locations and great light to photograph for a video workshop called, “Finding Serendipity.”
          Sun streaming through the arched windows of Grand Central Station is one of the most stunning interior sights in New York City. This is one of only five shots I took of Karli Dinardo before the strap of her dress broke. We expected a warning from security guards but the broken strap cut our stay short and, so, no warnings happened.

Note: See the entire photography workshop adventure in the video program projected in this gallery.

Jordan Matter

Stepping Out with My Baby |
Gus Solomons Jr.,
Carmen de Lavallade

New York, New York 2012

Carmen and Gus are revered in the dance and theater worlds. I felt more than a little lucky to have an opportunity to work with them but Carmen was performing eight shows a week on Broadway in A Streetcar Named Desire and Gus was recovering from back surgery and walking with a cane. They graciously agreed to meet an hour before Carmen’s call time at the theater. After a couple of failed ideas, I found myself with just ten minutes remaining. The expression “stop and smell the roses” popped into my head and an idea suddenly came to me. I would use the blur of activity that defines Manhattan to underscore the beauty of a simple embrace. I set my camera’s shutter speed at 1/25th of a second to achieve the motion blur. During this brief shoot, more people stopped and commented on them than on any other dancers I photographed over the years.

Jordan Matter, Dancers Among Us, “Loving”

Stroller Boogie |
Karin Ellis Wentz,
with her daughter

New York, New York 2011

 

Karin retired from the prestigious American
Ballet Theatre once her baby, Madeleine, was
born but she was still in great enough shape to
jump 64 times, while I waited for her daughter
to do something fantastic for the photograph.
Two great models strolling on New York City’s
High Line. Worth the wait!

 

 

 

Jordan Matter, Dancers Among Us, “Living”