Backstage at the Ritz

Obviously I was going to take pictures backstage at The Slutcracker when I visited Boston. I emailed the director — aka, my friend, my mentor, my former troupe leader — as soon as we realized I’d be in town during the show’s run, she asked me when I wanted to be there, I showed up, and at one point I was on someone’s shoulders while everyone cheered.

I knew almost the entire cast. I had been on a stage with them before, I had been naked with them and ripped adhesive off my chest with them and made out with them and mock-humped them with a sock stuffed down my booty shorts. And usually, I’d also had my camera with me. It was just part of my hand, part of my face, a given.

When I saw that the troupe I’ve performed with just a couple of times in Minneapolis was also doing a subversive “Nutcracker” — at the Ritz, one of my favorite theaters, and collaborating with Ballet of the Dolls, one of my favorite dance companies who have a long history of beautiful, eerie (occasionally to the point of being Lynchian) and often hilarious shows — I contacted that troupe leader too. “Hey! Shooting backstage is kind of my jam. Want me around?”

They were cool with that. I rejoiced. I packed my things, I showed up.

And then, faced with the dressing room of the Dolls, I broke into a sweat.

I don’t really know any of these people, I realized. Not just that this was socially stressful, but from a practical standpoint: I don’t know who the camera whore is, who prefers privacy, who is more selective with their personal space, who might be annoyed by my mere existence in the room. And I deeply admire all of them. They’re professionals! Oh god, I was going to have to act professional.

I would announce my presence, start from a distance. I use a wide angle lens, so these photos were mostly useless, they were just warming me up, normalizing that shutter sound echoing in the room. Hihihihihi.

Okay, I’d breathe in, act casual, get closer. Now closer again. They’d look up at me, smile, or not, they had things to do. God, they were so awesome! What if this was obnoxious? What if I was in someone’s way? What if this wasn’t professional? I bumped my butt into makeup trays, broke a chair. Closer.

Full album: here.

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