Becoming A Photographer?

I have not come close to a professional dance career, but at the time of making the photographs, I was still taking classes at Constance Grant Dance Centre, in my home town, Sheffield, England.  I was doing ballet, tap, modern and theatrecraft.  Never quite making it to excellence in dancing, but enjoying the fantasy of performance in cramped dance studios and accomplishing the craft of personality and presentation in my memorised coordinated routines. Every two years we had a dancing show, which gave me insight into the life of a showgirl, applying thick make up and false eyelashes, peeling glittered leotards over ‘American Tan’ tights, struggling against accumulated sweat, quick changes, elastic soaked in make up keeping headdresses in place, tap shoes with elastic sewn on for ease of putting on and staying on.  Smiling.  Projecting personality to the back of the auditorium. The senior girls, those who were doing all the classes and helping out on Saturdays, had their own kickline routine. I was never in that. In fact, was that part of what I was doing? Trying to create a space for me to be a showgirl?

As I’ve already discussed, the colour digital results, with my recycled dance costumes were discomforting, they revealed me as a woman too large for spangly spandex, too old for a dance career and with no grand lighting illusions constructed, the truth looked pathetic.  What on earth did I wish to accomplish?

I was so invested in being in the photograph that I did not know either. Over the two years I had at college, I shot and re-shot, learning as I went, not only technical skills, but of the lives of performers in the early 20th century. I was becoming the photographer I wanted to be, but what was I saying?

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