Work / Photography

Emily Stein captures the relationships between young ballroom dancers 

Photographer Emily Stein and art director Kaysha Sinclair have worked together on this new series, Hold Me Closer Tiny Dancer, which explores the closeness of young ballroom dancing partners. “While dancing, the tiny couples spend a huge amount of time together, practicing as well as competing. They’re in close physical contact, through which a special and intimate relationship is formed between them,” explains Emily. 

Referencing the formal portraiture of the 1950s, Emily and Kasha chose couples with a particular aesthetic in style and personality, with backgrounds to match. “Our subjects are from all over the world, from Russia to South America,” says Emily. “They were all shot in Blackpool during the Young Ballroom Dancing Championships.” The stiffness of the kids’ poses mimic the control and precision seen in the dances they perform, and it’s fascinating, if a little unnerving, to see it so ingrained in their body language off the dancefloor. 

“The couples’ personalities obviously varied considerably, as did the way they interacted with the camera. They’re used to being in a scenario where they are always performing, and we attempted to show these alter egos while highlight their relationships.” Their poses, demeanour and made-up faces make them look like little adults, but Emily and Kaysha have captured the friendship between these partners. “Many of these kids have been dancing together for years, even though they are so young. We really were struck by the intimate and intense bonds between these children.”


Emily Stein and Kaysha Sinclair: Hold Me Closer Tiny Dancer


Emily Stein and Kaysha Sinclair: Hold Me Closer Tiny Dancer


Emily Stein and Kaysha Sinclair: Hold Me Closer Tiny Dancer