One afternoon, while he was watching his toddler play with a plastic toy bus, New York–based portrait photographer Jordan Matter became inspired to produce something photographic that would equal his son’s unfettered joy at playing make-believe.
A short time later, Matter attended a dance performance and knew he’d found his collaborators. “Dancers are storytellers,” he says. “They’re trained to capture passion with their bodies. They often create a fantasy world or offer us a deeper look into familiar settings. They bring to life what we feel but what most of us, lacking their artistry and athleticism, are unable to express physically.”
Matter spent three years traveling around the country to create “Dancers Among Us,” a series of images that feature dancers in everyday settings. His project prompted us to produce a Carleton version.
Carleton dance professor Judith Howard and instructor Jennifer Bader helped us recruit the dancers who leaped, pirouetted, and jetéd across campus. Here they are looking extraordinary in some familiar places.
Carolyn Friedhoff (Miami), junior philosophy and cognitive science major, Language and Dining Center
Michelle Hoge (Seattle), senior environmental studies major, Bald Spot
“I never anticipated what a huge role dance would play in my life at Carleton. The people I dance with have become my best friends and, more important, my community. I’ve learned so much about the world through exploring embodied knowledge with the help of truly spectacular teachers in the department. I won’t pursue dance professionally after graduation, but I’ll be dancing for the rest of my life, and I’m grateful for the people at Carleton who have taught me just how essential that is to me.”
Ann Treesa Joy (Cottage Grove, Minn.), junior studio art and women’s and gender studies major, Lyman Lakes
“Dance is my break from everything else. It is a major stress reliever. And everyone involved with dance at Carleton is amazing. We talk about dance all the time: How’s the piece you’re choreographing going? Or: When is the show? Dance is a way for me to express myself in a very pure way.”
Carolyn Friedhoff, Laurence McKinley Gould Library
“Dancing produces in me the lightest sense of joy that I know; that is why I dance. Thinking about dance, on the other hand, produces in me a distinct light-headedness as I consider the meaning of movement and the ethical place of the performer, the choreographer, and the viewer in society.”
Elise Erickson ’12, dancer with Minneapolis-based ARENA Dances, Severance Great Hall
Mike Bahn (York, Pa.), junior dance major, James Hall
“Dance is an effective tool for communicating about the most important topics. I’ve seen it used to speak on issues of social justice and race, environmentalism, biology and cell division, gender, politics and the economy, gentrification, disability, and math.”
Ellis Johnston (Bowling Green, Ky.), senior biology major, Skinner Memorial Chapel
“Dance has the ability to convey what words cannot. By incorporating dance into classes in American studies and biology, I have gained a much deeper understanding of topics I would have only read about or watched.”