Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dancers Among Us Gets a Celebrity Endorsement

In December, I wrote an open letter to a Tony-winning Broadway legend, imploring her to participate in my book. It was titled, "Bebe Neuwirth, I Want YOU for Dancers Among Us!" It was a long shot, but you never know until you ask, right? Stranger things have happened. After a few days with no response, I let go of my fantasy. The Internet is just an empty echo chamber, I thought.

Six weeks later, an email shook my world.

"I just saw your blog request. I looked at the slideshow of your book's shots, and I'm completely charmed, moved, delighted and willing!"

Signed simply, "Bebe".

At this point, my life became totally surreal. Later that same day, I met Bebe at Prodigy Coffee, her husband's awesome new coffee shop in the west village. They were raving to me about ME. I was dumbstruck.

The Dancers Among Us collaboration happened immediately. After two hours of kicking around ideas, we settled on an idea I never would have anticipated. The location would be Equine Advocates, an amazing horse sanctuary Bebe works with in Chatham, NY.

I was leaving for a West Coast trip, and scheduled the shoot for the day I returned. I flew in late Friday night and arrived home at 2am. By 5am it had begun to snow, and by 7am it was a snowstorm. At 9am I was on the road to Chatham. As a testament to Bebe's commitment, she didn't cancel, despite the doom and gloom forecast.

After a treacherous trip, we both arrived around the same time. The 140 acre facility was breathtaking. Co-founders Susan and Karen Wagner generously opened their home to us, which was much appreciated given the twenty-degree temperature.

We went down to the stables. The stalls, as well as the rescued horses, turned out to be quite photogenic.

Bebe agreed to a photograph mucking out a horse's stall, which shows her terrific sense of humor (no surprise there). She's had two hip replacements, and the temperature was too frigid for her body to stay warm. I didn't want her to try anything extreme- the conditions were an injury waiting to happen. I gave her a pitchfork and asked her to do some Fosse moves while raking the hay. She played around as I hoped for a horse to arrive.

Finally a horse, lured by the soothing voice of Bebe's husband, Chris, came into view. The horse turned for a moment to look at Bebe, and she hit a couple of very fun, very Fosse poses while looking right back at him.

We rushed inside to warm up. Bebe's hands were frozen, but I was thrilled. I had gotten exactly what I wanted- a unique, whimsical image featuring Bebe in an unexpected environment, showcasing the dance style that made her a Broadway star. And whenever I'm completely satisfied, there's only one thing to say.

"Can we do another photo?"

Amazingly, Bebe agreed. I walked around the property, scouting a new location. I came upon this gem.

I ran back to the house and gathered the troops. Within twenty minutes had shot one of my very favorite images of the entire series- a photograph so beautiful it blows my mind. I absolutely cannot wait to share it with you...

In the spring of 2013, when the Dancers Among Us book is released! It's worth the wait.

Thank you Bebe.