Recently I left my dream job of thirteen years dancing for the Paul Taylor Dance Company. PTDC is one of the most prestigious dance companies in the world and about eight years ago I started photographing my fellow dancers in the wings and in rehearsal. Now that I've moved on I'm working with other dancers and dance companies to expand my portfolio and work on some creative personal projects.
Most of my backstage work is of the Taylor dancers but recently I've reached out to several other dancers in my industry in order to arrange more curated shoots with a little less spontaneity. I have a passion for bringing the art into shooting dancers. Combining my two loves of photography and dance has inspired me in a different way lately. I've been asking myself the question, How do we highlight the photograph as a work of art with a dancer as the subject and tell a story with multitude of interpretations? Rather than place the dancer in a great scene and instruct them to show off their technique? That beauty of the dancer will come out organically. I don't think we need to exploit it. So how do I bring that natural artist to the scene I'm composing?
I'm going back to the photography greats I've grown to adore like Saul Leiter, Harry Callahan, Man Ray just to name a few for inspiration. Bringing a little abstraction to the photograph and making the observer question rather than awe at the wonder of the dancer. I'm interested in the internal not the external beauty of the dancer as an artist. I want people's reactions to be inquisitive rather than impressive.
I'm a dancer, photographer, dance instructor, sometimes a choreographer, and creative enthusiast. It began with the simple thought that living in this world of incredible dancers and a genius of our era is just too beautiful not to share with others. I'm constantly fascinated, impressed, amused, and inspired by the talents and personalities of those I share the stage with. Over the years some people took note of what I was doing and invited me to present my work in galleries and magazines. My photographs of the Taylor dancers were displayed at the Harding Gallery in San Francisco and my project Piano Movers was exhibited at the Furman Gallery at Lincoln Center in New York City. In the summer of 2018 my backstage work will be exhibited in the Furman Gallery once again in tandem with the Dance on Camera Festival. My work has also been published in Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher and, Dance Spirit. Photographic inspiration comes from the greats like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Harry Callahan, Yousuf Karsch, Saul Leiter just to name a few.
I'm always looking for ways to keep myself creative whether it's teaching a class, taking a photograph, or imagining a new dance. The creative mind is the happy and healthy mind. I believe that we are all inherently capable of creative talent. It's whether or not we have the patience and dedication to nurture that talent that makes our craft communicable to our society. In expressing ourselves in ways words cannot, we have the opportunity to connect and find common ground on the most fundamental differences. In this way we not only heal ourselves but we also give a little bit of love and learn to live in a world populated with diversity.
The Story 'Bout a dancer
A native of San Antonio, Texas, Graciano received a B.F.A. in dance from Stephens College for Women (male scholarship) then continued his training with scholarships to the Ailey school and the Taylor School. He has been a member of Ben Munisteri Dance Company, Cortez & Co. Contemporary/Ballet, Pascal Rioult Dance Theater, and was a founding member of Dusan Tynek Dance Theater and TAKE Dance Company. In 2001 he danced in the Robert Wilson/Philip Glass opera, White Raven at the New York State Theater. That Fall Robert Wilson personally requested him to be featured in his first production of Aida in Brussels. The New York Times declared him a “virtuoso star” when he danced in the Paul Taylor Dance Company from 2004 - 2017 and in 2009 he was featured in Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” hailed as a dancer with a “freshness that’s all his own”. Following Taylor he proudly joined The Broadway Dance Lab for the Fall 2017 cycle. He has taught in universities across the country and in communities internationally and he is now on faculty at the Paul Taylor School. He resides in New York City and in addition to investigating dance and his own choreography he continues to photograph dancers. He is newly a certified apprentice in the Gyrokinesis® method.
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