Grace Glides on Blistered Feet


Ashley Tsai
Digital Documentary Photography
December 2009

As the only form of artistic expression in which the self actually embodies the work of art, dance is the process of striving for perfection. In this constant desire to improve, dancers look, stand, even walk differently because they have not only a different posture, but a different kind of mentality altogether that is instilled through countless hours of classes, rehearsals, and performances.

 We often only see dancers on stage, where they appear larger than life as they move seemingly effortlessly across the floor.  Rarely do we get a glimpse of the dancer outside of his or her stage persona. Through this documentary, I wanted to show who the dancer is as a person and the tremendous amount of effort that goes into making something look effortless. More importantly, I wanted to reveal the way dance affects a person not only while he or she is dancing, but also the way it shapes all aspects of a dancer’s life.  Though Caroline’s experience is certainly not identical to that of every other dancer, her passion, determination, and work ethic are truly inspiring and give us a sense of the physical, intellectual and emotional investment many dancers place in their art. 

Being a dancer myself, this project was very personal and meant a lot to me. I found that she and I actually have quite similar experiences in dance and also similar philosophies of dance. Though this documentary was not about me, I felt Caroline and I shared a large part of the story and I was thrilled that I was able to work with her to create this story.  I was truly grateful for the opportunity to combine my two strongest passions – dance and photography.  I hope that after viewing this documentary, viewers will gain a greater appreciation for dance and a heightened sensitivity to the hard work that goes into making this form of expression a beautiful art.