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Dancers in lockdown

Beth Carter, photo by Len Copland

Support for the Arts has been widely talked about over the past week and one of the things that caught my eye recently, putting the spotlight on some of our young dancers in Somerset, is an awesome project by photographer, Len Copland.

‘Dancers in Lockdown’ features some wonderful photos, telling the story of lockdown from the dancer’s perspective, and I’ve been really keen to share it here on the blog and discover more about it from Len. So, here are Len’s four thoughts... responses to the questions I thought you’d love to know the answers to.

Zahra Smith, photo by Len Copland

1. Can you tell us a bit about your Dancers in Lockdown project and how the idea came about?

I soon realised, following the shock of lockdown, that I missed photographing dancers almost as much as they missed dancing... so it dawned on me that if they couldn’t attend their dance studios, I might be able to visit them at their homes.

Obviously, in the beginning, this was never going to work as people were worried about catching Covid, so I waited until lockdown started to open up a few weeks ago. Really, the plan was to show how amazing our young people are. Far from moping around at home playing computer games and watching TV, these young dancers were dancing online with their teachers and even taking part in online competitions. The floorboards of their dance studios were swapped for the grass of their gardens and the carpet of their front rooms.

The first dancer I photographed was a young man called James Bamford, aged 16.   I explained what I wanted to do and he immediately agreed to take part.

James Bamford, photo by Len Copland

I posted the photographs that same evening and my Facebook and inbox has been full ever since! Also, it wasn’t 'pushy parents' who were putting their kids forward. It was young people themselves who wanted to take part. 

Dancers in Lockdown is made up of two photographs. One taken at their front doors to say "this is my home" and the other taken in their gardens, where they've been dancing. (obviously I didn’t go into anyone’s home because of social distancing).

Twenty-five dancers later and I'm still going strong!  

Alice Francis, photo by Len Copland

Elizabeth Jarvis, photo by Len Copland

2. Which are some of your favourite photos and why? 

I genuinely haven’t got a favourite. Well I have... but I wouldn’t be able to face everyone's parents if I revealed it! ;)

3.How challenging is it to capture the essence of dance through a lens? 

Luckily, a lot of these young people know me and being dancers, they’re natural entertainers. Their passion for the art is infectious, so all I really had to do was turn up and press the shutter button. 

Chloe McCoy, photo be Len Copland

4. Tell us a secret about yourself or the project that no-one else knows! 

I’m a frustrated doodler and would love to illustrate a children’s book one day. 

Well, that’s something to look forward to and what I will say is that Len is incredibly modest. The movement, heart and soul in some of these photos is incredibly powerful, creating a striking series of shots that leaves you mesmerised, as well as charting the lockdown life.

Lish Allen, photo by Len Copland

One of my favourite images is this incredible shot of Lish Allen and I love the way Len has brought this art form to life through a lens, in these challenging circumstances - reminding us how these young performers are the lifeblood of creativity. Thank you, Len, for celebrating it.

Bella, photo by Len Copland


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