What inspired you to create this project?

- As the COVID-19 public health crisis intensified during the first half of March 2020, I realized photographers have a role to play in documenting this chapter of history. At the same time, I found most other quarantine-related photography projects to be somewhat hollow. Photos of negative spaces (public squares that would ordinarily be occupied by lots of people, or supermarket shelves devoid of the usual rolls of toilet paper) are not especially artistic or interesting. I'd rather capture artistic images of people creating during difficult times than document scenes of emptiness. My revenue and creative outlets have essentially disappeared, and my dancer clients are in the same terrifying situation. This project affords dancers the opportunity to be seen creating dance, and allows me to create images that we believe will have an immediate and lasting impact. All this while following SIP guidelines.

Aren't there other dance photography projects happening now? How is yours different?

Yes, a few, but the ones I've seen feature affluent young student dancers posing in front of or inside their luxurious houses. In some cases they are even paying the photographers for these "mini sessions". The dance community I serve here in the SF Bay Area is mostly urban and diverse. It's important to me to capture as broad a range of dancers and dance styles as possible via this project. I include interested dancers without regard to their ability to pay me, now or later. The project will inspire others to create in a myriad of ways and will serve as a lasting document to the resilience of the artistic spirit during this quarantine period. To my knowledge the Dance Like Nobody's Watching Project is unique in this regard.

Where does the project's name come from? Is it a quote by Mark Twain?

- No, the "Dance like nobody's watching" quote did not originate from Mark Twain, Satchel Paige, or William Purkey, though it has often been misattributed to all of them. It’s from song lyrics written by Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh. I believe it captures the essence of a project featuring images of dancers who are forced to create their art while quarantined.

Can I support the project by making a donation?

- Yes, please! If you can afford to make a $10 donation you will receive a free download of one photo of your selection. A $100 donation comes with a premium of downloading all photos in the featured photo gallery. All net proceeds will be donated to a nonprofit organization helping those most in need during the pandemic. Click here to donate today.

Are you personally profiting from this project?

- I am donating my time to execute this project, and so are all of my participating dancers. During the legally mandated quarantine period in the SF Bay Area, I am donating 100% of all sales from this project to a local nonprofit to help those most in need. I reserve the right to retain any earnings from sales and publication related to this project generated after the shelter-in-place orders have been lifted.

I'm a local Bay Area dancer.  Can I still participate in the project?

- Absolutely! Please check out the "For Dancers" page. The project will continue for as long as we are sheltering-in-place. Diversity is key to this project, and right now I'm especially seeking male and gender-nonbinary dancers, dancers of color, as well as dancers who work in any hip hop style or in a world dance genre. I will try to schedule all dancers expressing interest, but my priority is to be inclusive of a wide range of dancers and dance styles.


Marie Walburg-Plouviez

Dancer: Marie Walburg-Plouviez
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