I walk into the room as they are getting ready. Their feet barely stay on the ground; their voices echo how raised their spirits were. The room electrifies as they chat and laugh with each other. The music swells, and they face the mirror on the wall. The last time I was here was their first day in Jazz Dance. I remember them carefully watching their movements in the reflection while following Sara’s, their instructor, lead. Today isn’t so different, but things aren’t the same as it was. For now, they wait; for now, they dance to their own music.
I stand at the back corner of the room. That’s one of my stations, and I will be bouncing from corner to corner, on my knees or on my feet, cameras ready. Sometimes I sit on the floor in front of them with my back against the mirror, their gazes passing above my head. I am a fly on the wall, armed with two 35mm film cameras — a Canonet loaded with Ilford HP5, locked with a 40mm lens, and a Pentax K1000 loaded with Kodak 400 TMax, looking through a 50mm lens. I, too, carefully observe; I barely stay stationary. I am ready to move, follow, and capture the motions they are about to create.
Sara enters the room, and it begins. She plugs her phone into the speakers but talks to the class before she hits play. They talk about routines I know nothing about, but today they are also learning something new. This isn’t precisely their last day of class, but it is their last day dancing; next week, they will sit on chairs watching themselves on a TV screen. I catch them on film before all the dancing ceases.