In the summer of 2016, Master Photographer Givens embarked on an epic journey spanning 50 states in 90 days with the sole purpose of photographing dancers in national parks and beloved and well-known settings in each state. After all, the possibilities for splendid settings abounded—a dancer on top of an active volcano, in the middle of the ocean, on a sand dune in Death Valley, in a glacier-fed lake—and Givens, undeterred by the Herculean task, jumped in feet first. During that 90-day journey, Givens racked up some unimaginable statistics: 22,264 miles driven; 22,160 photographs created; 163 dancers photographed; 56 locations; 50 states; and 1 Mighty Buford, the van that served as the vehicle—literally and figuratively—for Givens’s odyssey. What resulted is Dance Across the USA, a brilliant, coffee table style book featuring images from the journey. Part epic photo diary, part love letter to America, part celebration of dance, Dance Across the USA is completely awe-inspiring. Brimming with gorgeous, full color photographs, Dance Across the USA is filled with breathtaking images, swoon-worthy settings, and amazing subjects.
A passion project born of Givens’s desire to showcase the fabric of America, shine a spotlight on the importance of dance, and highlight the diversity that exists in both the physical landscape and in the dancers who make America their home, Dance Across the USA is an extraordinary—and extraordinarily real—book. Resplendent with real photographs of real dancers in real locations—the skies are real, the landscape is real, even the dirty feet are real— the photos within this incredible book involve no digital compositing, no trampolines, no wires or strings attached. Real dancers. Real photos. Real settings.
A book that is awe-inspiring in its sheer beauty and magnitude, Dance Across the USAprovides an exquisite, eye-opening look at America—from sandy Florida beaches to the rugged Washington coast, from the glaciers of Alaska to Death Valley in California and all points in between.
Jonathan Givens is a photographer specializing in the entertainment industry. Beginning as a performer, and then a technician, choreographer, director, and designer, Jonathan later became the Master Carpenter for the Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah suggested Jonathan pick up a camera…and the rest, as they say, is history. Jonathan is founder of EPS—Entertainment Photography Specialists. Dance Across the USAis published in a trade paper edition (ISBN: 9780692953709, 306 pages) and now available nationwide. For more information about Dance Across the USA, visit: http://www.danceatusa.com/ Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EPSpecialists Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eps_photo/ A portion of the proceeds from Dance Across the USA will be donated to benefit America’s parks and the National Endowment for the Arts.
I think that there are really two kinds of photo books: The first is the traditional how-to book and the second are coffee table books that are designed to inspire the reader. Jonathan Given’s Dance Across the USA manages to do both simultaneously, an incredible hat trick if I ever read one.
What Givens has done is not just create a book of amazing photographs but in his Introduction and back matter has produced a methodology for anyone interested in embarking on a personal photographic journey, whether its by city, state, or as Givens has done all 50 states.
The book has little text, preferring to focus on the images, but what’s there includes the minutia of what is really takes to produce a major project like this. He talks (and shows) how he developed a proof of concept, first shooting in the Everglades and then goes into developing funding as well as details of finding subjects and then getting permits for where he was planning on shooting, something many photographers overlook until someone with a badge and gun intervenes. He even provides a detailed listing of all the gear he used (Canon EOS) as well as lighting speedlights!) and a nice chapter on the Nissan van (not minivan) he used for this almost 22,000-mile journey.
Using male and female dancers of all ages, Givens has taken them to some of the most beautiful location in all fifty states and then created images that simply defy expectations. He is quick to point out that with many of the photographs showing dancers leaping in the air, no special effects were used and the only retouching was to remove incongruous articles in the landscape, such as an alligator lurking in the back of one of the Everglades images. Yes, he also emphasis the importance of safety and that is many of not all the images made in National Parks there was a ranger (they he paid) standing by to make sure that the photograph has no ill effects on the environment.
And then there are the photographs themselves. The first image in the book, aside form the breathtaking cover image, was made in Bryce Canyon and stunningly beautiful on so many levels. There is the dancer, the landscape and the incredible technical skills needed to pull it all together. Givens is not just a maestro of photographing dance but also in envisioning images that takes dance away from the confines of the theater out into the real world for people to enjoy.
Each chapter begins with some brief text about the joys and challenges of making images in that state and these particular locations. The ones that include waterscapes and how Givens photographs these dancers skipping and splashing through the air creates an otherworldly effect that makes Dance Across the USA transcend yet another book category—the reference book—so you’ll want to come back and look at these photographs again and again.
Valentines Day is around the corner and I would like to recommend that you pick up a copy of Dance Across the USA (Click on any link to go to Amazon.com) and make it a gift for your significant other, whether they are an aficionado of dance or a photographer. Both kinds of people will love this book. I did. And can’t wait to see what other project Givens has up his sleeves. Bravo.
Synopsis: "Dance Across the USA" by Jonathan Givens (who has been actor/dancer/singer, then a technician, then a designer. a choreographer and a director) is a collection of dancers from all over America showcasing what is beautiful and inspiring in the field of dance this country. Covering 22,264 miles, 163 Dancers, 90 consecutive days, 56 locations, and 50 states, Givens uses beautifully crafted full color photographs to create a project to visually show what really makes up America with respect to dance -- a diversity that exists both in the physical landscape, and in the dancers who make America their home.
The photographs comprising "Dance Across The USA" do not involve any digital compositing, nor are there any trampolines or wires. Using only Canon cameras and flashes, Givens quite literally went to the ends of the nation, to work with dancers ranging from 5 to 61. Professionals and amateurs, students and teachers, boys and girls, cat lovers and dog lovers, everyone and anyone was welcome. Over 3000 dancers applied to be a part of the project, and those selected for the book reflect not only the range of what makes up dance in America, but they also showed a love for this country and its wonders.
"Dance Across the USA" is a fun, beautiful, and inspirational look at America, both its places and its people. It is our differences and our diversity that combine to make us all Americans. From the sandy Florida beaches to the rugged Washington coast, the glaciers of Alaska to Death Valley in California, diversity is the hallmark of what literally makes up America. That diversity is reflected in our citizens, and our dancers.
Critique: An inherently fascinating, impressively well written, organized and presented contemporary study of American dance, dancing, and dancers, "Dance Across The USA" will prove to be a unique and enduringly popular addition to community and academic library History of Dance collections, and is a 'must' for the personal reading lists any and all dedicated fans of dance.
Dance Across the USA, by Jonathan Givens. Eps Pub. 306 pages. Oversized trade paperback. $39.95.In his beautiful and inspiring book, Mr. Givens celebrates the United States, especially its dedication to maintaining parks, preserves, forests and other natural areas owned collectively by citizens; the separate states plus DC individually; and the art, excitement, and pleasure of dance.Mr. Givens raised money to make an ambitious tour with an ambitious mission. In his modified Nissan van named Buford, he crossed over 22,000 miles of America in 90 days. The trip took him to all 50 states plus Washington, DC. Developing his route and choosing his settings carefully, he took photographs in 56 locations. While most of these locations are relatively untrammeled by buildings, he couldn’t resist urban places like New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. National Parks play an important role in this hymn to nature, but so do smaller and less known recreational areas: Lakes and streams, ocean coasts, mountains, canyons – even swamps. Sometimes a setting includes a distinctive structure that grabs the photographer’s attention.There are no crowd scenes in this collection, which is just as much focused on the figure in the landscape as it is on the landscape. The figure is a dancing person frozen in time. Most of these figures are girls and young women. Perhaps the average age is 14 or 15, though some are much younger and a few considerably older. There are very few male dancers. The statistical outcomes have to do with who showed up for the advertised opportunities to participate. The author-photographer aimed at inclusiveness, but he didn’t force it. Each dancer seems embraced by the selected setting. One can sense reverberations between the monumental, imposing stages and the smallish figures. These dancers seem illuminated in a way that strengthens the image, balances it against the magnitude of the setting. Dancers are the foreground. They seem to leap out of or above the place, defining it while being defined by it.Indeed, a great number of the photos are of girls in flight. Not fleeing, but flying. They leap in ballet poses that enhance the sense of their physical fitness, elegance, and beauty. But mostly what comes across, in part because many of them were invited to talk about their experience as dancers, is their strong sense of self – their distinctive personalities.Indeed, the voices of the dancers show that they themselves are inspired as well as inspirational. Listen to 13-year old Sonja Giardina at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park:“Before written language, before the spoken word, there existed the language of the body. A raw form of personal expression unhindered by the boundaries of conscious thought. Dance is pure movement and emotion channeled into a manifestation of one’s true self.”GivensAt the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota), Ieree Lundin announces: “Dance tells the stories I can’t get out of my mouth . . . I dance with joy. I dance with fear. I dance to overcome.” See the photos of Ms. Lundin and you will believe her words. . . . (CLICK LINK BELOW TO READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW)
From the Largest Not-for-Profit book awards for Indie Authors, Dance Across the USA was named a First Prize Winner in the Coffee Table Catagory, as well as a Grand Prize Winner in Non-Fiction!
After submitting Dance Across the USA to the National Park Service, it was forwarded to the director of the NPS from when the project occured. The Honorable Jonathan Jarvis wrote this glowing review -
"JONATHAN GIVENS' PHOTOGRAPHY DEPICTS GRACEFUL DANCERS WITHIN EXTRAORDINARY LANDSCAPES IN DANCE ACROSS THE USA. HIS ARTISTIC EYE REMINDED ME OF HOW IMPORTANT THE ARTS HAVE BEEN TO OUR PARKS AND PUBLIC LANDS. WITHOUT THE EARLY PAINTINGS OF THOMAS MORAN AND ARTHUR BEIRSTADT, THE CONCEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS MAY HAVE NEVER BEEN EMBRACED. LONG EXPOSURES BY ANSEL ADAMS BROUGHT US NEW PERSPECTIVE OF YOSEMITE, AND ORCHESTRAL COMPOSER FERDE GROFÉ RE-IMAGINED NATIONAL PARKS WITH HIS GRAND CANYON SUITE. DANCE ACROSS THE USA SIGNIFICANTLY CONTRIBUTES TO THIS BODY OF WORK, USING "AMERICA'S BEST IDEA" TO INSPIRE, CREATE AND REJUVENATE. AS EACH DANCER IS CAUGHT IN AN EXHILARATING LEAP OVER A BACKDROP OF STUNNING VISTA, THEY REMIND US TO CELEBRATE OUR NATION'S HERITAGE."
- THE HONORABLE JONATHAN B. JARVIS FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE (2009-2017)
Dance Across the USA wins First Place in the Performing Arts catagory from the National Indie Excellence Awards!