Behind the Lens: Exploring the World of Dance with Michael Hart

Behind the Lens: Exploring the World of Dance with Michael Hart

Each week we’ll feature one photographer from the PhotoShelter community, and share his or her story behind the shots that caught our eye.

  • Photographer: Michael Hart
  • Specialty: Dance/Performance Photography
  • Current Location: Barcelona, Spain
  • Clients:  Juilliard Journal, New York Times Style Magazine, Artforum 
  • PhotoShelter Website:
The Shots:

Photo of Moira Silva by Michael Hart

The Field by Michael Hart

Photo of Jennifer Lacey by Michael Hart

The Story:

Michael Hart’s draw to the arts began in high school – as a teen, he was determined to get accepted into the theater program at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, Texas. At the time, the dance program was in desperate need of male dancers, so Michael decided to change his course and he’s never looked back. Since then, Michael has devoted his life to helping develop the arts with whatever resources he can get his hands on. “The photos are simply a residue of that intention, which I want to share with as many people as possible,” says Michael.

The images above are from Hart’s series Memory Burn Book 1, whose title is inspired from one of Hart’s most cherished books, The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson. Hart highly recommends The Autobiography to anyone with an interest in photography: it’s a modern day Greek myth of a young man who uses photography to pull himself out of the personal hell of a recent heartbreak.

Hart talks about his Memory Burn series as a constant work in progress. “The series isn’t fixed and probably never will be until I’m dead,” he says. “I’ll add to it and subtract to it based on however I feel at any given moment.” Most of the dancers within the series are Michael’s friends, family, and what he calls his tribe. “I do everything I can to make them look as good as possible and well placed up there on my website.”

Because the series is perpetually growing (Michael currently has a total of three “Memory Burn” series), the images are always distinctly different. Shot at different times, and under several circumstances, Michael tells us a little about the three shots above. The first, of dancer Moira Silva, was shot in Peru while Hart was on tour with The Public Dance Theater, a company that Hart co-founded in 2005. He was asked to document the entire summer tour, and Moira was one of the many dancers that collaborated with The Theater.

In 2006 Michael was commissioned by the Juilliard School’s dance division to photograph their senior graduating class. The second image, titled The Field was inspired by a poem by the Persian poet Rumi. The third is of dancer Jennifer Lacey, who was a part of the performance series AMBUSH, which Michael co-produced.

Michael is currently teaching a photography course in Barcelona, and preparing for a solo exhibition at the TriBeCa Grand Hotel in New York City set to open in early September. The exhibition will be titled “The Thief’s Journal: NYC”. He is also in post-production for the web-based video project, INSIDE LIVES, that was made by over 30 NYC-based artists, of which he co-produced with dancer and choreographer Adam Weinert.

What caught our eye:

Michael’s incredibly dynamic work depicts a passion that is not only powered by the dancers themselves, but that is translated visually by the way Michael chooses to photograph them. His extremely active role within the dance community gives him access to these privet moments, and allows him to create images with a sense of hidden truth.

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This article was written by

Marketing associate at PhotoShelter

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