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.