Portraits and Interview with Océane

Ph :: Michael Elmquist

Ph :: Michael Elmquist

I've personally always had a bit of a problem fumbling around the world. I trip on flat surfaces and am someone adept on knocking down things far out of my reach. The only time I felt my dexterity was vaguely honed was when I did sword sparring back in Minnesota (against hoards of invisible demons of course) but that's not an accessible hobby in New York City. And so I find the ability to control ones body not only for general life things, but as an expressive form, very intriguing. When I met Océane, I was somehow already aware I was only going to meet one Océane. Not because her name is unique, but because she is. When I discovered she was into dancing, I was intrigued to find out more - and of course, take a few portraits. Read her interview below and check out the gallery of portraits after. Also, be sure to follow her on Instagram and her official website.


How did you end up in New York City?

I first came to New York for a summer internship my junior year of College. I was involved in HIV/AIDS advocacy and was working with the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA). I attended arts high schools growing up and always had people telling me New York was incredible, to the point where I was extremely skeptical. That first summer I was here I fell in love with this city and after graduation I decided to make the move and pursue dance. 


What has been your experience as an artist living in New York City?

I have experienced tremendous growth as an artist and human being during my time in New York. Within my artistic journey I quickly discovered that community and mentorship inspire and energize me so I put intentional focus in those areas of my artistic life. 


What about dancing do you find the most intriguing? 

I adore experiencing my body in new movement forms or pathways, I am constantly challenged and excited by what stories we can tell with our bodies and the pursuit of becoming more physically articulate gives me great joy and sense of purpose. I love both being a part of and seeing work that gives me an intense feeling of being alive, work that makes me ponder and question, that leads me into deep connective conversations with others. 


Do you find that this communication has capacities that, for example, speaking doesn’t offer? 

In my experience speaking can be incredibly impactful if the speaker is intentional about their use of language. In the same regard movement can have tremendous communicative and expressive capacities based on the skill and intentionality of the mover. I had the privilege of studying theater for nine years and this question leads me less to a preference of performing art forms and more to what individual artists are capable of within their creative practices. 


Where would you like to go as an artist in the future?

I would love to be in a position where I am collaborating with choreographers who challenge and inspire me on a regular basis. It would be wonderful to have a consistent dance job that is also abundantly well paid and covers medical expenses. Going beyond those basics it has also always been a dream of mine to travel the world while performing. 


What advice would you give to others who would like to explore dancing?

Be courageous, playful, inquisitive, and tenacious. I believe it is important to find people who inspire you and learn from them. Be open to the evolution of your identity as a dancer and performer. And when you have been cut from what feels like an insane amount of auditions in one week, and you are doubting your worth as an artist, practice gratitude. Gratitude for your wonderful expressive moving body and your brilliant inquisitive mind. Then if it still makes your heart sing, get out there and do it again.

Official Site