Written By: John Zur Photography: Mitchell Zachs/MagicalPhotos.com
In late September, SunPost was invited to photograph Jordan Schaps and Benjamin Martin as they painted a ballerina of the Miami City Ballet. The model posed for a mixed media rendition of the five basic feet positions of ballet.
The idea came to fruition collaboratively from Martin, who envisioned the techniques of painting, photographing, and digitizing, Schaps, who saw the five-position concept intriguing, and Bill Miller and the Miami City Ballet as the foundation of the project.
“This has been a dream project,” said Schaps. “It started when Benjamin and I were paired to collaborate on an art project for the Prestige School of Visual Arts’ Mentor Gallery Show. I teach there, Benjamin went there. I was blown away when I first saw Benjamin’s work: people, painted and “edited” by Benjamin. I immediately thought his brilliant, fresh, and original technique could be applied to dance and theater – it had such emotion, movement, expression. I’ve been involved in the dance world (founding board member of the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company) for a long time, and I haven’t a clue how the idea of rendering the 5-ballet positions popped into my mind. But it did, and though I had only a vague idea of what Benjamin would do – I knew there was magic ahead. I “threw the ball” to Benjamin, who understood instantly. This is probably the most fun creative collaboration of my long career. I think it is for Benjamin too, though his career is just beginning to explode. For the SVA show, I got us a New York ballerina, Benjamin painted and photographed her and then applied his amazing computer technique and we created a poster for the show. It was quite a sensation.”
“We found the MCB,” said Schaps. Through a connection, he arranged a meeting with Bill Miller, Marketing Director for MCB. “He ‘got it,’ and us, in a heartbeat, and brought our project to his MCB team. They invited us down to MB to recreate what we’d done in NYC, on a MCB ballerina. I think we didn’t know how they planned to use our work, but when we saw their theater and that place for a banner – we set our sights on our work going there. They did too.”
Regarding the photo shoot, Schaps believed it was “one of the best work experiences I’ve ever had – total bliss, mindless of anything other than the work…” Although Schaps was the creative for the project, and had little to do with Martin’s “process,” he was invited to paint with Martin. Recalled Schaps, “He also suggested that we both wear white, as while the shoot progressed, we’d become splattered with paint. The work process became a performance piece of its own. That’s two creatives for you!”
Their work is being turned into a banner (10-feet high by 38-feet wide) and will grace the theater facade (2200 Liberty Avenue, Miami Beach) as of November 30th, as MCB’s Art Basel, Miami Project. In addition to the banner, Schaps and Martin produced a free standing portrait of the ballerina en pointe. The banner outside represents “studio rehearsal technique,” whereas the portrait inside the theater – framed in the lobby – represents “performance.”
“This whole project has been a dream collaboration,” summarized Schaps. “In my long career, I’ve worked with very famous photographers – photographers with one name to photographers with three names. Benjamin will join those famous artists, and in a short time. He’ll probably eclipse many of them!
“The shoot was a dream,” echoed Martin. “I can’t imagine a more fulfilling culmination of this project that Jordan and I have been working towards.”
“We’re in discussion with MCB for what we all feel will be a long and fruitful collaboration over a range of projects,” adds Schaps.
Said Martin, “I have seen how Miami is rapidly coming into its own as an American forerunner in the arts and it is really amazing to be able to be a part of it.”
To See the all five finished pieces, head to Miami Ciy Ballet, 2200 Liberty Ave; Miami Beach. As of Wednesday, November 30, all five are pieces of art are hanging on the outside of the building.