Mike Esperanza, a Filipino man with a shaved head and a black goatee, poses in a mint green suit beneath a transposed title that reads "Meet Cover Model Mike Esperanza (he/him/his) by Lory Lyon"

Born in the Philippines and raised in Southern California, I grew up as a musician till I was in college and then became a graphic designer. Fell in love with dance when I was a junior in college and have developed a dance career over the years, taking me out of corporate America. I live as an artist in Brooklyn, NY teaching dance, choreographing, designing and photographing beautiful humans.

 

I think I’ve found a nice balance between all the hats I wear. I try not to burn myself out of one thing. It all kind of works together as a creative process. I try to use element from every task to help elevate my own personal experience. That way I don’t completely lose interest in on over the other.

What/who inspires your work? 

“Movies, fashion, style, New York and its oddities, art, museums. Mostly things unrelated to what I’m doing. I tend to use foreign ideas or subjects to digest so my ideas don’t get so personal that it doesn’t feel relatable.“

Mike Esperanza poses in a white room in a maroon shirt and maroon floor-length skirt. He stands with his legs wide, holding his left elbow and staring right at the camera.

What are the parallels between creating/directing choreography and creating/directing a photo or film shoot?

“Both really are about designing a body in space. Each has a frame, a light source and a form of communication. It’s what you see and what you want your audiences to experience.“

When you show up to a photoshoot, what is your process?

“‘Let’s see what works’ every person is different. Sometimes I have to direct a lot and sometimes I sit back and watch the magic unfold. The unexpected becomes the most intriguing.“

Mike Esperanza dances with arms splayed in combat boots and a long white tunic. He stares directly at the camera.

What do you want to see more of in dance photography?

“Imperfections.“

What advice would you give to other visual artists about making work in the current moment?

“Be transformative. Always see things from different perspectives or even time. A setting can be so different beyond the camera frame. Instinct can see the bigger picture.“

Mike Esperanza stands hunched over in a maroon shirt and maroon floor-length skirt looking pensively at the floor.