For a full decade, I had the privilege of photographing the essential and hugely effective Dancers Responding to AIDS, known as, DRA!
My annual assignments transported me each summer from the chaos of NYC to the Fire Island Pines dock, where I arrived by ferry on the third weekend of July. The Pines is a haven, a magical place: no cars in sight, just homes connected by wooden boardwalks in a pattern reminiscent of a MONOPOLY board. There’s mystery and beauty at night when homes glow from within and laughter and music emanate from behind hidden gardens. Equally enticing are the vivid sunsets and the beautiful beach with its constant, comforting sound of breaking waves. And there are always a few free-roaming deer!
The annual DRA! Festival is much anticipated by dancers and their audience. In fact, everyone on the island welcomes DRA! and joins in the celebration, donating their time and talent as they seek to raise as much money as possible for DRA’S vital, non-profit cause.
Performances are held on a temporary stage constructed over a swimming pool. There are no wings, just the Great South Bay beyond the stage, stretching as far as the eye can see. This ideal setting, combined with eclectic programming and an array of incredible artists, never fails to result in a spectacular experience. It’s no wonder that everyone on the island eagerly awaits this remarkable annual event.
In this, my first SPOTLIGHT gallery, you will see my curated, tight edit of many of the dancers and groups that I photographed during my time with DRA!. at the Fire Island Dance Festival. By showing you behind-the-scenes moments, among them rehearsals with dancers sporting sunglasses, corrections being offered by choreographers and of course, the glorious performances, I hope to convey the skill and the relaxed atmosphere and ever-present camaraderie that make these performances an unmitigated joy for everyone taking part in them and seeing them.
And I hope that one day you will witness the Fire Island Dance Festival for yourself. I am sure you will find what I have found: it is an unforgettable experience!