-Stranger in a strange land-

Mayu is a Japanese ballet dancer who currently works in New York. We are both immigrants from Japan, and our paths to New York were similar, with both of us spending a few years in Europe before coming and settling in the city on our own.

On our journeys to New York we both experienced various degrees of self-doubt, alienation, depression and at times regret, ultimately followed by a sense of reawakening and rediscovery of our inner selves.

With this series, I aim to convey some part of the jarring experiences we independently shared as female immigrants looking for their place in a foreign country.

Dancers usually perform on stage, but because I shot Mayu on locations that could be considered unorthodox for a dancer, the combination of a ballerina and outdoor scenery gives the series a sense of dissonance.

To emphasize this effect I knew that I had to do things differently from a typical dancer’s portrait so I also deliberately set out to shoot her as an object in a frame. I kept asking her to express something different from beautiful formal ballet dance. Everything she does as a dancer is so beautiful, so I asked her not to be too beautiful.

Mayu’s pregnancy with her first child in 2019 was a beautiful occasion for both of us to rethink the meaning behind this series. We decided to continue in the same style, shooting on location throughout the city. I personally find the lines of Mayu’s body against the bare colorful backgrounds of city walls astonishing. To me, they represent the beauty and grace of becoming a mother, as well as the strength that is expected from a woman to be one. I see these pictures as a reminder that our future should always take priority over our past.

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