Spontaneous Photoshoots Capture Exceptional Talent of Young Dancers

Jordan Matter Dance Photography

Anna, age 15
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Photographer Jordan Matter is known for his spectacular dance photography. His books Dancers Among Us and Dancers After Dark are both best-selling celebrations of spontaneous dance. And now he's back with a new book that spotlights talented young dancers across America.

Born to Dance is a look at the wonders of childhood through the boys and girls who have found their calling in dance. Matter was inspired to start the project by his young daughter, who threw in an arabesque while shoveling snow. This tiny, spontaneous act was so heartwarming that it set the photographer off on a new mission. Since 2014, he's been photographing dancers as young as 5 years old all the way up to 18 years old, capturing the magic and mischief that it means to be a child.

“Kids still see the magic in life's small moments. There's no cynicism. To them, each day is still truly an adventure,” Matter tells My Modern Met. “They are so excited to participate in every single photo shoot, like it's the Super Bowl. I hear stories about how they haven't slept for weeks leading up to a shoot, that it's all they can think about. When the day finally comes, they always want to push the limits and do mischievous things they're not usually allowed to do.”

What stood out most to Matter is the discipline and focus of each dancer, no matter the age. As he explored their personalities and collaborated on the scenes about to be photographed, he assured them that there was no pressure and encouraged them to just have fun. This translates into the freedom and joy that unfolds across the book's 256 pages. Matter manages to capture both the grace and athleticism of each child, while still reminding us of their youth.

Dancing Kids by Jordan Matter

Jeremy, age 11

Matter's work is littered with dancers that are already well-known at a young age, such as YouTube and America's Got Talent sensation Sofie Dossi. He recalls one photoshoot with the young star, who is known for her contortions, where fans caused such a stir, it almost got them shut down. Other dancers like Chloe Lukasiak and Nia Sioux of Dance Moms and Maesi Caes from World of Dance also appear in the book.

Another result of Born to Dance is Matter's successful 10 Minute Photo Challenge videos. Initially a YouTube novice, his channel has grown to over 1.5 million subscribers in a little over a year. These behind the scenes videos, shot during Born to Dance photoshoots, are an exciting look at Matter's dynamic work style. Throughout the book, QR codes send readers to the associated video, allowing them to see how the finished product was created.

Broken into nine chapters that demonstrate different phases of youth, like Play with Me and When I Grow Up, the book is able to tell the story of universal childhood while also showing a wide variety of dancers. Playing with expectations, a particularly powerful image shows a young boy playing baseball who is simultaneously striking a pose while at bat. For Matter, it was vital to show that dance—and the freedom to follow your passion—is something that every child deserves to explore, no matter their gender or body type.

Born to Dance is an incredible look at childhood through the work of talented young dancers.

Jordan Matter Dance Photography

Sofie, age 16

Born to Dance by Jordan Matter

Melinda, age 9

Dancing Kids by Jordan Matter

Jeremy & Esi, age 11

Born to Dance by Jordan Matter

Matter's wildly successful 10 Minute Photo Challenge videos capture the talent of these young dancers.

Jordan Matter: Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Jordan Matter.

Related Articles:

Interview: Fearless Dancers Bare All to Strike Vibrant Poses Under City Lights

11 Photographers Who Capture the Beautiful Movement of Dancers

Dancers and Photographers Come Together for Incredible Spontaneous Photo Shoots

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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