From the bustling streets of Hong Kong to the vibrant avenues of Rio de Janeiro, master of dance photography Omar Z. Robles has traveled the world, capturing local ballet dancers as they pose and plié through urban environments. For his latest series, Bare Sky Dance, Robles literally takes his photos to the next level by shooting his subjects on New York City rooftops. Other than taking to high vantage points, Robles also asked the dancers to pose nude, celebrating the human form and revealing their vulnerable side.
Robles explains, “As a photographer I am drawn to photograph the naked form for the same reason artists throughout millennia have been drawn to it. Because it is beautiful and expressive. The simplest, purest and most eloquent form of our humanity.” The stunning series captures the dancers’ sculpted bodies as they contrast against the gray, structured NYC cityscape. Taking a different approach to his previous projects, Robles decided to ask the dancers why they chose to be photographed naked. He tells My Modern Met in an email, “I wanted to switch the tables and let the dancers be not only the images but also the voices behind their photographs.”
Each photo was published alongside the subjects’ individual stories and experiences, giving an intimate view into their worlds. One dancer, Brittany Cavaco, bravely reveals that she had previously been a victim of sexual assault, and that the incident has made her extremely body conscious. However, after shooting for the Bare Sky Dance series she says, “The day we happened to shoot on was cold and rainy, not the typical day one feels inspired to dance on a rooftop naked. Nevertheless standing on the rooftop, my body exposed to the world, I no longer felt self-conscious, ashamed and vulnerable, I felt free and proud.”
Another dancer from the series, Cassandra Orefice, said, “For me posing for Omar’s new series was a celebration in the freedom that dance has given me. The freedom to be proud of my art and the body that helps me do it.” She—along with all of the other dancers—strike powerful poses, highlighting their beauty and confidence in that moment. Robles explains, “The dancers were able to bare not only their bodies but also their souls over the NYC skies.”
You can see and read more from the Bare Sky Dance series on Robles’s blog.