Breathtaking, tremendous, awe-inspiring -- just a few of the words that come to mind at first glance of this year's Dance With Us: Motion Across Culturesphoto contest grand prize winners.
Dance With Us celebrates the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' upcoming DanceMotion USA initiative, which is a cultural diplomacy effort that shares the United States' rich dance culture with international audiences. DanceMotion USA sends four American dance companies on cultural exchange tours to four world regions beginning in early 2012. The contest received more than 2,000 entries from 129 countries.
Each photo tells a story more fitting than words could describe. A common thread in all of the photos is the uniting themes of family, community, beauty, and culture. In Paul Gordon Emerson's "In the Sacred City" a dancer weightlessly suspends in the air. In June 2011, Emerson was wrapping up a Department of State-sponsored three-city engagement in Peru when his dance company, Company E, was “granted unprecedented access to film and photograph in the lost Inca City of Machu Picchu in the heart of Peru,” says Emerson. “Here, with Wayna Picchu in the distance, this dancer finds flight.”
Emerson is the founder and artistic director of Company E, a contemporary dance company out of the District of Columbia. Before organizing the dance troupe, Emerson worked on Capitol Hill and for more than 20 federal campaigns in Washington, D.C. Company E tours regularly with the support of the U.S. Department of State and, in fall 2011, the company traveled to China and Kyrgyzstan.
James Quah captures more than dance in his photo "Pasut." In the traditional world of Malay dance, much controversy has been created over what “constitutes 'kreasi baru' or new creations,” says Quah. “As a result of this debate, new traditional dances have emerged from the core of classical and folk forms.”
Since he was 20 years old, Quah has engaged in different styles of dance and continues to be involved in performance arts as a photographer. He thrives on capturing dancers in their unique element; executing difficult movements with refined grace and beauty.
“Sacred City” and “Pasut” earned each photographer the grand prize of an iPad2 as well as global recognition when their work is featured on the ECA websites and displayed at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. Runners up will receive ExchangesConnect T-shirts and postcards featuring the top 20 submissions.
Please visit ExchangesConnect today to view all 20 winning photos.
A list of the runners up: "The Door of the Church" by Gabriella Biro (Hungary); "Rwandan Cultural Dance" by Doreen Umutesi (Rwanda); "Eternity" by Luo Xi (China); "Imbayah - Celebrating Life and Abundance" by Edmond M. Corpuz (Philippines); "The Spin" by Marijana Smolic (Croatia); "San Francisco Dance" by Eldon Christenson (USA); "Tannoura 1" by Riham Moustafa Darwish (Egypt); "Torbellino" by Patricia Lopez Cabrera (Peru); "Break Dance On Belan Square" by Felipe Ignacio Benítez Horta (Chile); "Festival of Joy" by Arindam Dutta (India); "Uzbek dancer" by Timur Mamatkhodjaev (Uzbekistan); "Pakistani Cultural Balochi Dance" by Akbar Raza (Pakistan); "Colorful Traditional Dance" by Ifedolapo Alli (Nigeria); "One Motion, One Star" by Mussa Qawasma (Palestinian Territories); "The Folk Dances of Turkey" by Erkan Ozerkan (Turkey); "Folk Dance in Paraguay" by Elton Nunez (Paraguay); "Follow My Steps" by Moulay Driss El Maarouf (Morocco); and "Diablos Arlequines" by Jaime Manzur (Colombia).