Local photographer, UNCSA dancers create art project

Local photographer, UNCSA dancers create art project
December 10
00:00 2015
Photo by Owens Daniels
 All dancers in the project danced to Carmina Burana: O Fortuna performed by London Philharmonic Orchestra. This dancer drew inspiration from the statue David by Michelangelo.

Home of the National Black Theatre Festival, numerous art galleries and the oldest city symphony in North Carolina, Winston-Salem has celebrated the arts for decades.

Even in the art-filled city of Winston-Salem, fine arts like photography and performance arts like dance don’t often mix.

Owens Daniels has set out to change that with his most recent photo-graphic series.“I wanted to recognize student talents in Winston Salem,” said Daniels. “I want to reflect and acknowledge the City of Arts in my work.”

The first showcase in the project, which will include five photos, will be in the Sawtooth School of Visual Arts from Dec. 4-21 as part of the “Deck The Halls” fundraiser program.

Inspired by images from the New York City Dance Project, Daniels created the Winston-Salem Dance Project. The project aims to capture the spirit of dance and demonstrate the nonverbal communication between the dancers and the photographer.

“I wanted to be as original to myself as possible,” said Daniels, who has captured unique photo series since 2007. “I didn’t want to use the big stage. I didn’t want to use the bright lights. I didn’t use professional dancers like the New York City Dance Project.”

Instead of using professional dancers, Daniels worked with students from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

“ D a n c e r s almost always wanted to be photographed,” said Paige Amicon, a fourth year contemporary dance major at UNCSA who helped Daniels find other students for the project.

A m i c o n reached out to friends and students in the department who would be comfortable in front of the cam-era. In line with Daniel’s request, Amicon found dancers from multiple cultural and dance back-grounds.

“We crossed out of our comfort zone, out of our own expectations,” said Daniels when speaking of the generational, racial and artistic performance differences at play throughout the shooting process.

During six photo sessions over six weeks, Daniels photographed over 20 dancers who attend UNCSA. Each dancer was asked to stay true to them-selves by bringing music they wanted to dance to and two costume changes.

“He would ask, ‘Is this her?’ and show us the picture to keep it true to the individual,” said Natalie Kirk, a second year con-temporary dance major who participated in the project. “He let us be a part of the shot and behind the scenes as well.”

Although Daniels has no background in dance and has never photographed dancers before, he was able to connect to the students during the photo sessions.

“That was the meeting point between us,” said Amicon. “Owens under-stands music and we [the dancers] understand music in dance so we connected on that.”

Many of the dancers expressed a learning curve throughout the project for both Daniels and themselves.

“[Owens] had to rein-vent the way he shot each dancer because they were so different,” said Amicon. “For us, it was difficult to transition from dancing large to dancing with smaller movements because there was a small-er background.”

For more information about photographer Owens Daniels or the Winston Salem Dance Project visit


About Author

WS Chronicle

WS Chronicle

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors