Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I Have a Huge MAN CRUSH on tWitch, but Allison Holker Got Him First

I arrived at the location early. Dance lifestyle channel DS2DIO and a full production crew would be there shortly, documenting my Dancers Among Us process with megastar couple and So You Think You Can Dance alum tWitch and Allison Holker. DS2DIO had arranged everything- bringing me to Los Angeles, selecting the dancers and choosing the locations. It promised to be an amazing day, except for one little thing…

This was the first location-

Soon everyone would be gathered, waiting for me to make magic. Allison and tWitch would expect a photograph befitting their talents and accomplishments. DS2DIO would be looking for some great footage. Yet I saw nothing of interest at this staircase. I didn’t know the area well enough to suggest an alternative; it had to be here.

As time dwindled and their arrival was imminent, I did what I always do when in a photo crisis- I looked to the light.

 Perhaps this had potential. I zoomed in closer and liked what I saw.

If I had seen these beautiful flowers ahead of time, I would have asked Allison to wear something that complimented the color. Then, as often happens, serendipity took over- she arrived wearing a perfectly matching skirt!

I fell for them immediately. They are a HOT couple, and I developed an immediate man crush on tWitch. Within five minutes I had his shirt off. All I could see when I looked at them was sexy, sexy, sexy. I knew the shot had to ooze sensuality. They were game for anything, and we started trying poses.

I was set on the dip, but after hundreds of shots Allison suggested something more intimate.

I’m so glad she did. An adjustment to her leg position and the image was complete. Fifty minutes and 583 photographs later, we got our shot!

We still had a little time, and I wasn’t in any hurry to let them go. I suggested we try a more guerrilla approach. When in doubt, head to the local coffee shop.

With just a few minutes remaining, I sprawled out in the middle of a busy intersection and took full advantage of tWitch’s amazing leaping ability.

After just two hours of shooting, I had three great shots! On Monday you can watch the film on DS2DIO’s YouTube channel. I’m looking forward to seeing it myself- Allison and tWitch were born to be in the movies. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chachi Gonzales and Ian Eastwood Like You've Never Seen Them- Dancers Among Us Style

"You're shooting Chachi Gonzalas and Ian Eastwood at a bowling alley. This is a big deal. They're HUGE!"

So said Tyrrell Shaffner of the extraordinary dance lifestyle channel DS2DIO, founded by Hollywood director Jon M. Chu. They were bringing me to Los Angeles to film my Dancers Among Us process, and they were very excited that Ian and Chachi would be joining us. The fantastic video will post FRIDAY on the DS2DIO YouTube channel. Make sure to check it out-

Whenever I shoot someone famous, I've found it's best to know as little about them as possible. I don't do any homework; I don't want my ideas to be influenced by what they've already done. That came in handy when I met Chachi, who has over 400,000 Twitter followers and a huge fan base. She is a member of the dance crew I.aM.mE, which won the sixth season of America's Best Dance Crew in 2011. Had I seen promotional photos like this-

I may never have had the idea to cast her as a Midwest all-American girl like this-

Her dancing style is so fluid and unique, you really need to see her in motion. Her movement is electric. Had I known this, I may never have asked for a still pose. I would have been too concerned with staying true to what made her famous, but that style of dance doesn't lend itself easily to photography (especially holding a bowling ball). Instead, we came up with this fun pose-

I felt like it needed a little more drama, so we rushed out into the middle of the lane and shot for less than a minute. I couldn't risk getting Chachi kicked out- can you imagine the reaction on Twitter?

Ian arrived next, touting 100,000 plus Twitter followers, MTV fame and a World of Dance Youth Choreographer of The Year award. Once again, I'm glad I never saw this cool promo shot-

Because I may not have felt comfortable suggesting my location of choice- the public bathroom. I told Ian I wanted him to dress as retro as possible (not difficult for him), and comb his hair while watching himself dance in the mirror.

He ate it up!

We rehearsed in the hallway because I was absolutely certain that we'd be asked to stop once I brought a film crew into the bathroom.

We rushed into the bathroom and Ian quickly started dancing... and it turns out we could have stayed all night. I guess film crews in bathrooms aren't so unusual in LA. We got lots of shots.

And ended up with one photo I absolutely LOVE!

So we all had a blast, and the lesson to be learned here is: Don't do your homework.

Hopefully my children are not reading this post.

Make sure to watch the video on Friday on YouTube. To quote my new friend Ian, "It's dope!"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dancers Among Us Supports HONY and Tumblr in Raising Funds for Hurricane Sandy Relief

New Yorkers and East Coasters are still feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Many have lost their homes and their possessions. Though it may drift away in the media, don't forget people are still suffering terribly. I've admired Humans of New York for a long time now, and would like to invite all to contribute to a fund they have in conjunction with Tumblr. They have already raised over $216,000 with 100% of the proceeds going to Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a foundation doing amazing work for Hurricane Sandy relief. I invite all you Dancers Among Us fans to please contribute to this incredible cause. There are only TWO DAYS left to contribute!

Photo of Dancer Among Us Kristina Doiron in New Orleans, LA

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

So This Is What Viral Feels Like

I’ve always credited “going viral” with my success in getting a book published. Online interest in Dancers Among Us put it on the map three years ago, offering me access to publishers and reassuring them that there would be an audience for my work.

I didn’t know viral.

Friday morning I got a sudden rush of excited emails- “Holy Shit” was my favorite subject line- informing me that Dancers Among Us was #1 on Reddit. Like almost everyone else, I had no idea what that meant, but apparently it was a very big deal. Three days later I would discover exactly how big.

Late Sunday night I received an email from The Daily Mail UK, linking to a flattering story on Dancers Among Us, “Incredible photos show dancers striking acrobatic poses across cities, beaces... and even in the shower!”. They had seen the project on Reddit and wanted to showcase the photographs. They casually mentioned that in the hour it had been live, it was their most popular post.

And then I went to bed.

I awoke Monday morning to a flood of news requests from around the world, spanning the US, the UK, Canada, Russia, Spain, South Korea, India, Poland, Brazil, Germany, Italy and France. Television producers were calling my cell phone, and the day ended with three network appearances. In the three days since its ascent to the top of Reddit, I had 538,000 page views on my website, and Dancers Among Us shot up from #1,500 to #58 on Amazon.

It was a whirlwind. Here are a few of my favorites-

ABC World News with Diane Sawyer

"What's trending now" on Yahoo!

The Insider on CBS 

NY Daily News

MSN now

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bumped From the Airwaves, Everything Quickly Unravels in Seattle

Outside the New Day Northwest Studio in Seattle, WA

How did it all go so wrong, so quickly?

It was just last week that I was on top of the world. My book, "Dancers Among Us," had debuted on the New York Times extended best seller list and sold out on Amazon. My launch party, hosted by the Paul Taylor Dance Company, had exceeded capacity and expectations. I had a fantastic interview on the Today Show, and I had been selected by Oprah for her holiday gift list. Most surprisingly, on Friday morning "Dancers Among Us" was #1 on Reddit (I don't really know what that means, but apparently it's a very big deal).

Then, in the midst of all the excitement, I got a call on Friday that began my spiral. New Day Northwest in Seattle had cancelled my television interview, which was scheduled for Monday morning. Airplane tickets had been purchased and a hotel room had been reserved; I was getting on a plane, but suddenly I had an empty docket. Of course, it was too late to schedule an appearance elsewhere.

With this empty space in my schedule, all I could do with my new free time was wonder why. No plausible explanation had been given. The segment had been booked two months ago, at their request.  Ciscoe the Gardner replaced me at the last minute.

Desperate, I found myself waiting outside the studio. I brought my book and rehearsed my speech, certain that I could convince them to overlook my shortcomings. I wasn't exactly sure what those shortcomings were, but it had to be something. They wouldn't have bumped me for no reason, right? At the very least I would finally get an explanation.

At some point I dozed off. I awoke to a cold reality: No TV appearance. No explanation. As Ciscoe the Gardner filled the airwaves with talk of fall foliage and apple maggots, I slinked away.

Seattle has always been one of my favorite cities, and now it's tarnished. The only thing that could possibly redeem it, at this point, is if the entire city meets me at Elliot Bay Bookstore today at 6:30pm. I will be signing books and staging a Dancers Among Us shoot, and I need a little Pacific Northwest love.

Ciscoe is invited too.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dancers Among Us Tours the West Coast

Want a chance to be photographed for Dancers Among Us?
Want to win a FREE Dancers Among Us book?

Attend the signing and presentation at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, WA on Monday night to enter raffles to win! The first winner will be photographed THAT NIGHT for Dancers Among Us, as a demonstration of the fun and collaborate process to everyone in attendance! The second winner will receive their free book in their hands that evening! Click here for more details on the exciting evening.

Along with this exciting evening, Dancers Among Us will also be featured on TV on KING 5's New Day Northwest that morning at 11:00am! I will also be signing books after what will be a fabulous performance of Pacific Northwest Ballet on Sunday at 3:00pm.

If you're in the neighborhood (or even if you're not!), please stop by, say hello, and participate in the fun!

And please, spread the word! It's going to be an awesome time!

(Stay tuned for exciting updates of Dancers Among Us in Los Angeles!)

Monday, November 5, 2012

I’m a “Piece of S#!T”… and I’m Sorry

A few days ago I received a phone call from a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. A dancer contacted him complaining that she had won a contest to appear in Dancers Among Us and was then excluded from the book. He was looking for a comment.

I explained that I had never promised anyone inclusion in the book. I deeply appreciated every dancer’s effort, and I hated cutting photos. As I continued to talk, he interrupted me.

“You’re a real piece of S#!T, you know that? You use people for your own gain, and you don’t give a damn about their feelings. I don’t care how great you think you are, or how many books you sell, you’re just a piece of S#!T.”

So he was probably not a reporter from the Chicago Tribune after all. Most likely he was an upset boyfriend who had grown frustrated watching his girlfriend suffer over the exclusion of her photo. The conversation soon ended when he hung up on me, but his message continued to resonate.

Recently, I have received many emails and texts from dancers asking why their images were cut from the book. They’ve all been polite, but perhaps they were upset too. Maybe some even feel that I took advantage of them for my own personal gain.

This makes me feel truly awful.

This project began as personal work and evolved into a book eventually. The editing process was brutal, and I hated every minute of it. We ended up cutting almost half of my photos, probably excluding over fifty dancers. Each of these dancers made a big investment of time and energy to work with me, sometimes driving for hundreds of miles or waiting for hours to shoot. The exclusion of their photo says nothing about their talents as dancers. There was simply not enough room to include every image, and my publisher and I had to make very difficult choices.

To every dancer who didn’t make the book: Please know that my apology is heartfelt. I owe each of you a huge debt of gratitude, and I won’t forget your efforts. Thank you. I’m sorry.

To the angry boyfriend: Please have your girlfriend call me if she wants to know the details behind our decision; I’m happy to discuss it with her.