Dancing Queen

I met Gina a little under a year ago when my lovely neighbor invited me to join her at a World Dance class that Gina teaches.  I was just about to undergo reconstructive ankle surgery to fix a severe injury sustained when I was attacked by a dog a year prior so I was eager to getting my dancing fix before being back on crutches with a slow PT recovery process, once again.    I've always loved to dance, for as long as I can remember, but African Dance and Latin Dance in particular are two favorite genres of mine.   Imagine my surprise and sheer delight in being able to attend a class here in my small town that covers so many dancing styles (African, Latin, Hip Hop, Modern...) in 1.5 hrs while taught by the most effervescent, gifted, magnetic, fierce and incredible dancer I have ever had the pleasure to meet.   Ironically, long before attending Gina's classes I had already been ruminating about a personal project involving photographing a dancer.  I had simply been waiting to find the right person/model for the project.  During my first class with Gina, I instantly knew she was the one I needed to photograph.   It took me MONTHS (mostly months away due to my ankle surgery) to finally work up the will to ask her if she would give me a couple hours of her precious time for this endeavor of mine.    When I did finally ask her, and she generously agreed, it took us another few months to finally find a date that worked with both of our crazy schedules.  When the day finally arrived, I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by Gina's skill, strength and stamina.   I already knew what her body was capable of doing just from participating in her class but her own artistry and vision were an added bonus I had not expected.  We shot for an intense 2.5 hours.  I asked this acrobat/aerialist/dancer/capoeira master to do one thing after another with no breaks.  I was pretty relentless in my demands on her body and she didn't just meet them, she categorically exceeded them.  She never slowed down.  Not once.  She never said  "I don't think I can't do that."   She absolutely blew me away.  Every request was met with a hearty "sure!" or a charming smile followed by flawless execution.   She seemed to intuitively know exactly what I needed and I had to give her very little direction to achieve my vision for each shot.  She just NAILED it each and every time.  By the time we got to the beach, we only had 10 minutes left before she had to go teach her next class.  We busted it out and she gave me every last bit of herself until the final shot.   Her tenacity of spirit, her energy, her vibrancy.... just awe-inspiring.   I can't thank her enough for helping me achieve a personal project which I have wanted to do for the longest time.   I have always fervently believed dance to be one of the most expressive and stunning forms of art known to mankind.   When I dance, and I'm not even remotely good, but it is the ONLY time I feel free to just BE.   To clear my head.  To NOT think about anything.  To just BE.  TO EXIST.   It's an escape and an outlet.   I call my weekly class with Gina my Dance Therapy.  It keeps me sane, centered and balanced.  It is my oxygen and my fuel.  Gina (and all the other ladies in my class) inspire me every single class.   I am so grateful to have discovered this outlet, and especially joyful to have met all these incredible women.   Anytime you are feeling overwhelmed, down or frustrated, I suggest you crank up some tunes and just dance your little heart out.  I promise you will feel SO much better afterwards.  If you need a little inspiration, just look at these images! :)