Russian dancers show off their strength in Alex Yocu’s striking photography
Alex Yocu is an extremely diverse photographer. Since 2010, he has developed a broad portfolio that includes fashion, theatre and travel photography, encompassing a wide range of themes and subjects. His latest work focuses on a group of dancers he met while working as a theatre photographer. The dancers, who include Artem Gerasimov and Igor Sharoyko, were appearing in a nude performance and Yocu saw his opportunity to create an exciting new series.
“This series is an experiment for me,” Yocu says. “Actually, it was the first time I worked with nude people.” Born in Moscow, Yocu has worked in Russian theatre for over four years, photographing actors and dancers, but this project allowed Yocu to try something new. “I met these guys at the rehearsal for a new performance and we decided to shoot some kind of promotional materials. But the result was not emotionally and dramatically in the concept of the performance and it became a photo series with nude dancers.”
Yocu’s photos are striking, intimate portraits of the dancers who manage to contort themselves into a range of impressive poses. But Yocu insists that the series is about more than just acrobatics. “In this series I worked with bodies, poses and a bit with light. As in all of my works, I wanted to show something beautiful and give space for thinking. Anyone can see something here that meets his/her sense of beauty, emotional condition, even maybe dreams or fears.”
When it comes to choosing what to shoot, Yocu says it’s people rather than places that take his interest. “I have one rule – shoot what I like. I work with the theaters in Moscow that are close to me with their spirit and atmosphere, I shoot people on my travels who arouse my interest and I take part in social projects that touch me. I do what I feel like and hope that it’s good work.”
Despite nudity playing an important role in this latest series, Yocu does not believe there are any homoerotic overtones here. “Frankly, I don’t see any homoerotic theme in this series,” he says. “For me, erotica is about sensuality, tenderness but here are just several naked men practicing dancing and acrobatic poses. Or they are just fans of acrobatics and decided to train on Sunday. The nakedness is just a tool that helps me to show the whole beauty of the bodies and poses without any excess details.”
Russia has been the focus of many stories in the Western media over the last few years due to the introduction of anti-gay laws that restrict how LGBT+ people live their lives. Yocu, however, does not believe that life is getting worse for LGBT+ people in his home country. “There are a lot of press issues, a kind of information war, hysteria and so on. I don’t know exactly who benefits from this. And I’m almost entirely uninvolved in politics. I judge on everyday life and the people around me. Of course, in cities people are more intelligent and educated than in remote regions and they don’t separate others into homo and hetero categories. But I’m sure the situation is the same in any country, even in the USA.”
As for future projects, Yocu is always on the hunt for new models. “Almost everyone can become my model: an artist or actor, dancer, politician, old man or child, even a homeless person at the next corner. The only requirement is an interesting face and strong emotions. I love to shoot faces that can tell a story.”
See more of Alex Yocu’s work on his website.