Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dancers Among Us Feasts on Mardi Gras Madness in New Orleans

I traveled to New Orleans last weekend to record the Mardi Gras celebration for Dancers Among Us. As I arrived at my hotel Friday night, I was met by seventeen-year-old dancer Rebecca Wilfer and her family. They drove ten hours to be a part of the series. Rebecca came prepared, fully decked out in colorful Mardi Gras regalia.

The first parade of the holiday was passing near my hotel, so it seemed like an obvious place to start. The streets were packed, and I was worried Rebecca would disappear in the crowd. I realized that she could stand above the crowd on a newspaper rack and be illuminated by a streetlight.

Perfect! We rehearsed some poses and waited for the floats to pass by.

As the parade drew closer, an unwanted visitor parked his horse right next to us.

Police officers usually concern me, but in this case I wasn't very worried. A city that encourages overt nudity, drunkenness and debauchery couldn't possibly have an issue with a simple back bend on a newspaper rack.

The parade arrived. We waited for a large float, then Rebecca climbed up and hit her pose. The stands were wobbly but she maintained her composure. I took ten photos.

Suddenly I heard a horse's hooves moving quickly toward me. "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING? GET DOWN RIGHT NOW!"

I guess we discovered the only punishable offense in New Orleans.

Undaunted, we moved on. We chased the parade from behind and looked for a new location. We found it when I saw a huge "Mardi Gras" sign in the distance. We tried again, this time uninterrupted.

After the parade ended, we decided to try our luck on the famous Bourbon Street. Rebecca changed into a bright red dress, and we descended into the madness. I found a perfect sign, with a view of City Hall in the background.

In the midst of this chaos, we took a fantastic photo that perfectly captures the raw beauty and reckless abandon of Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. Unfortunately, I can't show you the final image until the book is released.

We agreed to meet the next morning at the same location for one more photo.

"Mardi Gras, The Morning After"