Are You a Poser or a Mover?

Updated 2018. Regularly we see dancers in our studio that come to us saying “I don’t take very good pictures.” These are often really beautiful dancers who have trained at wonderful schools or who may already be with a company. Their movement is great but the scope of their abilities is not captured on screen. They often know what they look like in a mirror but don’t know why what they see in the mirror doesn’t translate in their photos.

I explain to the dancers I work with that it’s not a matter of “I never look good in dance photos.” They need to understand that their photos and their movement quality can align. It’s just that they need to finesse the poses and find the lines and shapes that work for them.

Dancer: Carmela Mayo

Sometimes small details need to be altered for the perspective to work in 2D. Sometimes it’s the angle or the shape of the leg or a specific shoulder line that needs to be adjusted. And it’s possible to achieve. You have the ability. It’s helpful to have a photographer with an eye for these small adjustments.  We have explored these ideas here on the blog and in studio.

But today I want to talk specifically about identifying dancers who are more movers rather than posers.

I had a shoot with a gorgeous dancer from City Ballet. Just beautiful. A dream to watch. But when it came time to get down to shooting specific movements she had a hard time getting her lines and her arms in particular to look the way we wanted. She became frustrated and almost gave up.


Really, the challenge for this dancer, who was used to a fast paced, flowing, moving environment in her work, was to slow down, breathe, and align with the details to get great shots.

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Dancer: Carly Hambridge

Following that shoot, I started noticing which dancers I would categorize as movers and those as posers. And I’m happy to report that my little experiment seemed to work.

Once a dancer was identified as a mover–one who loves to flow, move quickly, whose energy is felt best emulated through fluid motion–I started working differently with them. We would pause, talk about the pose we were working on. We’d work to breathe, slow down, and get the muscle memory in place to build the shot.

Once all the pieces were in place, I could work with the dancer to return to performing with all their energy and emotion. The results tended to be much more successful for them.

Now ask yourself, are you a mover or a poser? How does it affect your dancing? Could you benefit from stepping back and fine tuning the details before jumping back in?

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