Photographer Agnese Morganti’s project that sees her document troupes of majorettes, was developed while on assignment in a village in rural Tuscany for a small festival. “Immediately I felt there was something incredibly interesting and unique. As I looked into the stories of majorettes, I found it to be one wrapped up in Italian history, cultural changes, and female empowerment – all of which spoke to me,” says Agnese. Inspired by her time working in fashion and as a reportage photographer, she gained support from Anbima, the Italian Association of Independent Marching Bands and they introduced Agnese to teams and majorette events all over Italy.
Her images are bright, bold and thoughtfully composed with colour playing a huge role in bringing the series to life. The majorettes’ uniforms are part of their identity and Agnese was attracted to the razzle and dazzle and the movements of the dancers. “The light playing off the sparkles on each outfit plays a strong role, as do the pom-poms, sequins and trimmings shining in the sun and creating amazing light effects,” says the photographer. The series is rich with texture and full of contrasts, like the pristine, glossy shimmer of the costumes juxtaposed with the dusty landscape the series is set in.
“I am naturally drawn towards scenes that breathe energy and excitement. But when it came to the majorettes, I also felt a strong visual connection to their stories that was somewhat reminiscent of when I was a child and I’d be fascinated by the sparkling outfits of 1990s TV stars, dancers and ice skaters,” explains Agnese. “The photographs I am happiest with are those where these elements of action and excitement spontaneously coexist with a more individual connection to a fresh narrative.”
The photographer got to know her subjects, their parents and the teams well while travelling around various competitions and feels it’s important to “establish a connection with everyone involved” and explain her intentions. The main challenge for Agnese was the time and money spent physically getting to the events that are based all over Italy. “But this is also part of the story of the majorettes, many of whom spend their weekends travelling huge distances to compete,” she says.
Agnese’s series celebrates both the performance element and the community these majorettes have established between each other. “They are very tight-knit teams of girls supporting each other and growing up together around a love of dance and performance,” she says. “Most of the troupes and music schools are located in very small towns, so it is also a chance to document some lesser known areas and traditions of Italy and reflect on the roles of women and girls and the life-changing bonds that these opportunities help to create.”
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