Why Ballet? Why Skateboarding?

Why Ballet? Why Skateboarding?


When I was 7 years old, I don’t know where it came from, or how I got it, I had a blue Hobie banana board. A banana board is what an old school skater calls the old, skinny skateboard that the 70’s era used. I still think it was the fastest board I have ever been on, but maybe that is because of some sort of nostalgia. It’s hard to forget that feeling of invincibility going down your first hill on a machine with no brakes.

It was love at first flight. The moment I learned how to do it, I did not want to do anything else. As I got older and the stunt life got bolder, there was a need to “document” the exploits. My love of cameras made me the guy in the neighborhood as that guy by default. So, a camera was always with me. And on those rare occasions, I would be able to use my dad’s VHS Camcorder.

There is a beautiful aesthetic about skateboarding that I can’t get out of my head. Nothing in this life is even close to it. Loving that beauty, made me always want to catch it in frame or film. But, now that my back can’t take it anymore, I needed something to satisfy that desire to capture. It was the night my wife’s friend gave us free tickets to see the Columbia City Ballet perform Aladdin, that I had found something to satisfy the need.

The Ballet

When I saw it, I immediately felt that it could be what I was searching for in photography. I hit my wife’s friend up really hard to let me get back stage and take pictures of the next one. And in complete transparency, I will tell you that I had no idea what I was going to do, or how to do it. But, that was almost 5 years ago, and I am still doing it. Here’s why.

What I immediately realized the night of my first chance, Peter Pan, was that I was about to step into a new world. I realized that I had crossed over into the art world. Being around skateboarding, you are always around artists. At least 50% of all skaters are also musicians, artists and photographers. We constantly are doing something in some sort of artistic way. Think about it like this. Skateboarding is a form of physical self expression. You whole body becomes part of how you pulled off the trick. Even to the point of how you roll away is part of the beauty of it. Just like the dance.

Dancing and skating are so similar in the way the body bends and stretches to achieve grace. And whether that is meant to look effortlessly, or to make it look like you worked for it is entirely up to the person doing it, because that is what style is all about. It’s hard to believe the hardcore punk in me is comparing these to, but it is true. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

The combination of the low light photography and the twists and turns of the dancers make for some of the most beautiful images I have ever taken. And that is saying a lot, because I also take pictures of my daughter. What has been great about it, is that I now see things from a feminine perspective. The delicate nature of the dance is not typically engineered towards the average blue collar worker. But in skateboarding, I have found that there are certain skaters that have a very delicate style, that is so cool to watch. Just like I have found that there are dancers pulling moves of power that would make a pro wrestler blush.

What does all of this mean for you, the reader. Not really a damn thing. I just think its’ interesting that the two are so different, but have certain things in common. The great thing is that both of their influences on me make me look at photography in a better way, everyday. I guess, if there is a point to all of this, it would be to always keep your mind open to new things. You really never know what is going to change your world.