Jordan Matter’s bestselling book, Dancers Among Us, has made his extraordinary photography and dance subjects accessible for us all. 

In Matter’s photography we see dancers amid ordinary people, dance where you least expect it. We see whimsy, strength and grace, packaged up in colorful imagery. To leaf through Matter’s photo portraits is to step out of the mundane and embrace magic, the possibility of something new, something unexpected.

Matter’s inspiration for producing this collection, he explains on his website, came through watching his three-year-old son playing with toys in that engrossed, wholly engaged way kids that age do, throwing themselves into it.

“What happens to this enthusiasm, this ability to be wholly present in the moment?” he writes. “Why are these pure moments of passion so often replaced with cynicism, boredom, and indifference? As I played with my son, I thought about creating photographs that would show the world as if through his eyes. The people in the images would be alive and in the moment, celebrating all aspects and emotions of everyday life.”

Matter succeeded, in the most delightful of ways.

Matter’s photographs spirit me away. They make me smile because they are a manifestation of how I often feel inside. Surely there is not a dancer (or former, or aspiring dancer) among us, myself included, who doesn’t stifle the urge to break into a tombé, pas de bourré, glissade, grand jeté leap while traveling down an expansive corridor, be it in an airport, an office, a street, a hotel, a church. When the music fills your heart, your mind, whimsy stirs your imagination, and the hunger to dance rises up in you. Seeing these photographs is like giving into that delicious, subversive urge, if only vicariously. These photos are my dance fantasies come to life. They are colorful, vivid, entertaining. They feed my dancer’s soul and they spark my ordinary person’s interest, reminding me that, indeed, the urge to throw ourselves into play is a skill that should be encouraged and cultivated as adults. Why, after all, let the three-year-olds have all the fun?

Thank you, Mr. Matter, for reminding all of us, dancers and non-dancers alike, that the ability to experience joy and zeal and expression through movement, is always within reach.