The mingling of soft bodies and hard architectural structures is a guaranteed way to generate high-contrast, memorable photos, and the Los Angeles-based dance company Jacob Jonas The Company (JJTC) is certainly using that to their advantage. The company, which blends contemporary ballet with breakdancing and acrobatics, has been collaborating with photographers, other dance companies, and institutions to draw attention to each structure.
Aside from putting on live shows, JJTC also functions as a production company for commercials and other visual projects; the #CamerasandDancers initiative grew out of what founder Jacob Jonas described as “Instameets.” Creatives gather in cities around the world and take photos, so Jonas extended the idea to pair photography influencers with dancers and use architectural icons as the backdrop. After the fifth shoot, the Getty Museum reached out to the group to stage a meetup, and now JJTC puts on about one a month (each photo series takes about three-to-six months to stage). The company has produced over 50 collaborations and is still actively soliciting photographers, dancers, and venues to work with.
Part of the inspiration came from #emptymet, both an Instagram hashtag and series of tours the Metropolitan Museum of Art stages to take visitors through the museum sans people. As Jonas mentioned, it’s a great way for people to experience cultural institutions in a new light, where one can focus on the structure itself without worrying about being jostled. For what it’s worth, #CamerasandDancers has also come to the Met itself, staging a shoot in the soaring Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates-designed Sackler Wing that houses the Temple of Dendur and faces Central Park.
Because each shoot is choreographed in entirely empty buildings without an audience, what the public sees is carefully controlled; the photography and dance itself are equally as important in creating the final image. Of course, while juxtaposing dance with historic structures isn’t new—see Gerard & Kelly’s sumptuous Villa Savoye show from last year, or Solange’s Getty installations—JJTC’s work has taken on a new poignancy at a time when most, if not all, of these institutions are now closed.