Stranger in a strange land

Mayu is a Japanese ballet dancer who currently works for the New York Theatre Ballet. We are both immigrants from Japan, and our paths to New York were similar, with both of us spending a few years in Europe before coming and settling in the city on our own.

On our journeys to New York we both experienced various degrees of self-doubt, alienation, depression and at times regret, ultimately followed by a sense of reawakening and rediscovery of our inner selves.

With this series I aim to convey some part of the jarring experiences we independently shared as immigrants looking for their place in a foreign country.

Dancers usually perform on stage, but because I shot Mayu on locations that could be considered unorthodox for a dancer, the combination of a ballerina and outdoor scenery gives the series a sense of dissonance.

To emphasize this effect I knew that I had to do things differently from a typical dancer’s portrait so I also deliberately set out to shoot her as an object in a frame. I kept asking her to express something different from beautiful formal ballet dance. Everything she does as a dancer is so beautiful, so I asked her not to be too beautiful.