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By Lory Lyon

As a director, photographer, and choreographer, I create and study images every day. I am trained to recognize work that is exceptional and am always searching for photography that will bring me to a place I've never been before. Dance, as well all know, is a fleeting art form. A photographer has the opportunity to grab a moment in dance and preserve it for generations. The most intriguing photographs are timeless, innovative, visual poetry. They capture and express an emotion and reality that both encompasses and transcends the here and now. 
These are all of the qualities I have found in the ten movement photographers that I have chosen to watch more closely in 2021. These artists express a potent visual language that is all their own. Each one of their voices is direct, powerful, discerning, and embodies curiosity and surprise. They give me a new perspective on both dance and visual art and make me want to expand my own repertoire and vision. I am curious to observe their creative journeys in the year ahead. Without further adieu, please reinvigorate your dance feed with these ten movement photographers that have left me feeling excited and inspired for 2021.

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Nigerian-American photographer Oghalé Alex creates otherworldly photographs embodying both posing and delicate movement. His dreamy work combines high fashion and fine art to deliver us a feeling of peace and freedom--and oh boy, we need that during these chaotic times.





With his clever, puzzling portraits, (not) Paul Simon wows us with his modernist movement approach. He has seemed to create his own universe by integrating sculpture (abstract, collage, and paper) and photography with moving bodies. His whimsical expression, insane geometrics, and layered Picasso vibes will leave you confused in the best way.

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notpaulsimon in collaboration with Paul Zivkovich

Photographer Ben Zank has a surreal eye for the abnormal and unexpected. Awkward inconveniences, bizarre contiguity, and the gift to convey the mundane struggle of life is the vibe from this Brooklyn-based artist’s work. Zank often integrates movement, personal predicament, and absurdity to create a visual reminder that we shouldn’t take life too seriously. To quote Zank in his Highfructose interview, “the image itself is the emotion.”

Ben Zank


Alinne Volpato


This ballet photographer lives in Brazil and blows us away with her stunning work. You may be tempted to buy dozens of her fine art dance prints. Every piece of her work radiates intentionality, emotion, and an editorial dream. 

Jason Mickle


Jason seems to center black optimism within movement, community, and freedom. His lighting techniques and capture of movement lend his work a rare and mesmerizing allure. Mickle shocks us with one of his latest artistic directions: integrating an octopus’ movement with a stunning Alvin Ailey artist. This reminds us that we are all intimately connected.

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Theik Smith


  In his words, Theik Smith is a “passionate light shaper.” Based out of New York City, this movement capturer is nothing less than magic! His art is timeless, dynamic, and representative of what the dance community truly looks like. We see the immense love and commitment he has for his work through his photography. This guy is solid for headshots, fashion, and commercial dance portraits.

Brooke DiDonato


This powerful Brooklyn-based photographer distorts moving bodies into unusual shapes that lead us on an emotional journey. Her work is tranquil, multi-layered poetry that lingers with us long after we experience it. This artist creates peaceful and surreal images with soft colors and soothing textures.  Her intimate movement photography has moved our souls, for sure.

Jenna Maslechko [Jayna]


This conscious New York City storyteller leaves us saying, “Wow. WHAT? How? Woah! Everything she makes is just…cool.” Digital, film, photography, choreographic, and anything experimental are her tools for divine creation. Her mind-blowing multitudes of genius will leave you wanting more and more. Jenna’s work is passionate, innovative, and a clear extension of her soul.

This New York City-based, multifaceted creator is a photographer, dancer, and choreographer raised in Thailand. This artist does not disappoint when it comes to capturing and anticipating movement, most likely due to all of the experience he has had dancing professionally. His photography and film is sophisticated, sleek, and portrays a depth of color that will warm your insides.

Kenichi Kasamatsu


Mike Esperanza 


Mike has a rare gift of capturing the shapes of the bare body, conceptualizing movement, and celebrating the magic in imperfection. He uses clean lines, rich color, and the geometry of bodies to deliver an image that is both progressive and transcendent. His photography feels minimal, queer, and design-driven. Dancegeist was honored to feature him and his photography in the Dec. ‘20 issue. He has been influential on my journey of becoming a photographer. His feed is a window into his innovative, humble, and intentional mind and soul. Mike wears many hats including photographer, filmmaker, designer, choreographer, and educator. 

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