Montreal-based photographer Melika Dez seizes dance with a refined and poetic aesthetic and takes as her main playground the streets of the biggest cities in the world. This visual artist – and former dancer – manages to immortalize the movement and body’s shades with high precision, spotlighting more than ever her models. We asked her a few questions.
Since when and why did you choose to mostly photograph dancers?
I always have photographed dancers, since my studies in Photography from 2007 to 2009. Hip-hop dancers were my main models for my shoots and school projects. Then, I quietly made a name for myself in the Montreal urban dance community. During a competition, an American hip-hop dance pioneer noticed me.
When he got in touch with me, I took the opportunity to tell him about my desire to photograph New York street dancers. He later invited me to New York City. It was in 2013. Thanks to this opportunity, I started shooting hip-hop events in the United States and gained a reputation. It was only in the summer of 2016 that I started to pay particular attention to ballet. A high-level ballet dancer I followed on Instagram, Candy Tong, was in NYC and I really wanted to work with her.
Thanks to this shoot and the magic of social media, dancers of the famous dance company Alvin Ailey contacted me. Since then, the snowball effect keeps going!
I photograph dance because it’s such an essential part of my life. Since I am a former professional dancer, I understand it, its mechanisms, its performance, its timings, etc.
I always say if you want to photograph dance in the best way possible, you must first and foremost have been a dancer yourself.
This is why, I think, I have a great significance in this specific field. Also, it allows me to travel to the most beautiful cities in the world! So, I can easily say that dance photography means happiness and personal accomplishment for me.
What inspires you the most as a photographer?
Being able to work with very different and unique humans. I have met extraordinary people through my work, and I have made incredible friendships. Besides, I find it fantastic to be able to reach people all over the world through my photographs!
What are your projects in progress?
I am currently working on a series of photos for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela. With choreographer Jeremy McQueen who orchestrated it, I’m photographing 100 black dancers in the streets of NYC, interpreting in their own way the “Black Power” position, fist in the air.
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