Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Government Bailout on Wall Street, Dancers Among Us-Style

After shooting Spiderman's Heather Lang in Chinatown (see last week's blog) for Dancers Among Us, I sped downtown to shoot AdéChiké Torbert, of So You Think You Can Dance fame. I was trailed by Design Brooklyn's videographer, Caleb Custer, who has been filming recent Dancers Among Us shoots for my be ALIVE web video series. We released the first video last week, and the response was spectacular. This week's video will feature Heather's Chinatown shoot - I'll post it to my blog and Facebook fan page.

For my shoot with Ade, as we arrived on Wall Street, we were in a rush. There was very little time before sunset, so no time for wining and dining. I asked Ade to wear a business suit, and we jumped right in (pun intended).

"What would you like to do, Ade?"

"Well, I do like to jump."

(Photos by Geoff Legg)

Now, I've photographed many of the top dancers in NYC, and they almost all like to jump. But there's a difference between liking to jump and exploding through the stratosphere. After I saw Ade defy gravity a few times, I tried to do it myself.

I knew I wanted to shoot in front of the Stock Exchange, and now it was clear there would be a fantastic jump involved. I assumed there would be throngs of Wall Streeters pouring into the square at 4pm, but I was wrong (maybe there are advantages to scouting locations ahead of time). There were only tourists, and not many at that. I handed Ade a wad of cash and asked him to jump as if he had just received a government bailout. I cropped out the empty square.

I liked the celebratory feel of his jump, but I needed people in the shot to give it context. So I called out to anyone within earshot. "There's a dancer over here doing an amazing jump. Check it out. Grab your cameras."

They didn't look all that enthusiastic.

"He's famous. Do you watch So You Think You Can Dance?"

Cameras appeared out of nowhere, and a crowd gathered. Gotta love pop culture.

Next, the bull! No self-respecting photographer can do a Wall Street shoot without incorporating the bull somehow. I wanted Ade to look like he was casually reading the Wall Street Journal while levitating in mid-air. It was too cold and windy to take time describing it, so I just tried to show him instead.

We took a few shots, but once again there was nobody in sight. Then I turned around and noticed that a crowd had gathered behind me. "Anybody want to be in the shot?" A couple volunteered, which was great except that two people don't really fill a frame, unless they're doing something fun. "How about kissing each other for five minutes while I shoot? Is that okay?"

Next, I wanted to borrow someone's car and do a traffic jam shot, but surprisingly there was no traffic. This was bizarre - there was nobody anywhere on Wall Street at rush hour. So we hopped on the subway and headed uptown. Finally there were people around. I borrowed a woman's Kindle and asked Ade to hang upside down. Nobody flinched.

Eventually his legs began to get numb. My long and amazingly creative day was finally over. I celebrated with an impromptu dance in the aisle with Ade, which Geoff captured on video. If you want to see some really white dancing, take a look.