JDP senior dancer Joey, pt. 1

Meet JDP senior Joey, dancer extraordinaire!  We don’t often do this, but the variety and depth of his gallery demands we split this into 2 blogs.  This treasure chest of portraits could be featured in a host of blogs, given the scope of what we covered, but rather than make his loved ones wait too long, I’ll contain it in two!  So part 1 is featured today and part 2 will come later this weekend.

We straddled the desire for soft muted tones with the desire for bold vibrancy of color in many of our set ups to please Joey’s desires and his mom’s.


The line dividing walking and dancing blurred for Joey as toddler; they were fairly one in the same for him.  His best memories revolve around dance and it’s how he has transported himself through life, always with a joy emanating from deep within.  His family storehouse of treasured photographs and videos spills over with recordings of his passion for dance.  Many recordings show him in his staple blue tutu dancing alongside Angelina Ballerina, the dancing mouse,  playing on the tv.

Joey’s artistic and observant parents clearly saw this love of motion.  Dani and Ben have been active in the arts through out their lives and Joey the artist could not have been born into a more supportive and loving family.  Uncannily, Dani and I realized we all went to the same high school 30 years ago!  I enjoyed watching Dani and Ben in an incredible performance of Brighton Beach Memoirs and remember Ben’s sister for her role in Guys and Dolls!  Dani went on to study theater in college, but her sweet disposition was not conducive to the cut throat industry so she did not pursue it professionally.  Ben trained in vocal performance and traveled the world as an opera singer for 10 years.  He only stopped when Joey was born so he could be present in the lives of his children.

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Joey spent his childhood galloping around the house with scarves trailing behind him, mimicking dance he saw everywhere in life.  Not just mimicking, but creating dance from life.  His parents enrolled him in his first dance classes at 3 years old at Carroll County Dance Center.  When Joey was 5 his ballet teacher pulled out bins of costumes for the children to select from and quickly realized the bin contained only girl costumes.  She apologized and assured Joey and his parents she’d add some prince like male costumes so he’d have selection options.

Joey didn’t say anything.  However, his parents recognized he was hesitant to advocate for himself and assured the teacher the costume selection was perfect because all Joey really wanted was to spin in a tutu.  This was the start of a fascination with costuming in the arts that has characterized Joey’s life ever since. It’s also why my studio stylist Jill was commissioned to be a part of Joey’s session to change up his hair and make up based on set ups we had planned, which was a marvelous addition.

Cut to Joey as an 18 year old in the planning phase of his custom senior portrait experience.  He was intrigued by all the wardrobe options in studio and was like a kid in a candy shop as he made his selections and envisioned what we would create!  No longer the reticent 5 year old, he made it clear he was hoping to create flowy, interesting and unique portraits.  Music to my ears!

At the age of 10 Joey began his ballet training at the same place he’d been dancing at since he was 3, Carroll County Dance Center, in their conservatory program.  There weren’t many boys in the programs there, but they were eager to have him, knowing what a marvelous addition he’d be to their conservatory.  The rigorous class schedule consumed most of the days of the week for him.

This was also about the time Joey’s love of modern dance began.  He believes his body lends itself best to modern movement since he’s not ‘crazy flexible’.  His lanky frame, combined with his love of flowy arms butts against the norms of stoicism demanded in ballet for men.  At 14 Joey switched gears to begin training at The Baltimore School for the Arts which is where he will be graduating from very soon.

Modern dance has very sharp movements Joey also loves.  Modern and contemporary dance styles allow for a freedom of expression in Joey’s movements which are as natural as breathing for him.  This is in opposition to some of what ballet typically demands of male dancers. 

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Joey is fascinated by creating interesting shapes in movement, texture and sensation.  He believes that dance should be a process of the internal becoming external.  It’s an incredibly emotional process for him which we will explore further in the next installment of Joey’s portraits coming later this weekend!

I continue to train weekly to hone my craft and explore possibilities in portrait creation.  Last year I trained with the iconic Albert Watson, who has created over 100 covers for Vogue and over 20 for Rolling Stones.   In the training session, he worked with the famous Russian male ballet dancer Sergei Polunin.  Just minutes into talking with Joey in his pre-consult planning meeting, I began to recall the visions of Sergei and was confident that we would create similarly arresting portraits with Joey.  And my gut was spot on!  Joey nailed every set up and is a true artist in his movement.

I know I have overwhelmed blog followers with the breadth of what we created here, so I’m going to give you a chance to take it all in and ruminate a little longer on your favorites.  Later this weekend installment 2 will follow to enthrall your eye and imagination!  Click here to contact us re your own custom portraits.

  1. Mindy Ryterman Milstein says:

    These pics are breath taking. Of course it’s our Joey and he’s incredible, but the photos are brilliant.

  2. Katy Clemens says:

    These are unbelievable! Among the best dancing photographs I have seen.

  3. Audrey Milstein says:

    I am speechless! An incredible journey–full of beauty, movement, talent, and grace!

  4. Susan Kraig says:

    You have captured the true essence of this very talented, artistic and expressive individual. Having watched Joey grow as a dancer for many years I am so impressed with these stunningly beautiful portraits of such an incredible human being. Bravo!!

  5. Erin says:

    Absolutely stunning ❤

  6. […] full of magic and mystery” as Joey proclaimed, continues with part 2 of his blog feature.   If you missed part one, you can find it by clicking here.  The breath of the set ups we covered in his session are a testament to his training and […]

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