Jacob Jonas captures the creative spirit of Santa Monica and Venice through dance photography

I am fascinated by finding intersections of dance and architecture, and so I thought it would be a great juxtaposition to put a ballet dancer in a skate park. This photo features Julia Cinquemani, former principal dancer with Los Angeles Ballet.

Growing up in Santa Monica, I always had a creative itch. In my early teens I was eager to explore my independence and passions, so throughout summer and on weekends during the school year I would skate through Santa Monica along the boardwalk to Venice. This route was always an escape and a breath of fresh air. It became a huge part of my identity. It was here that I found dance by joining the Calypso Tumblers, a band of street performers.

As a photographer and choreographer, I am always looking to capture these same feelings in my work. The backdrops of the ocean, the sunlight and the urban architecture of Santa Monica and Venice give great inspiration. I enjoy taking photographs of dancers with different backgrounds in these locations to continue exploring my city, highlighting my favorite components and sharing the images on Instagram for people to experience globally.

It is part of my mission to make dance a more recognizable and valued art form in society. So I also started an initiative called #CamerasandDancers, an event that encourages collaboration through the mediums of dance and photography. To date, 30 meetups have been organized around the world with social influencers, dance companies, museums, tourism boards and cultural institutions. These photos reach millions of followers, helping to keep dance relevant and connected to a younger demographic.

I never expected to get into dance photography, but it has allowed me to remain continuously creative while exploring my favorite elements of this city and showcasing my hometown for all the world to see.

— Jacob Jonas

Jacob Jonas is a choreographer and artistic director of Jacob Jonas the Company, based in Santa Monica. Follow his photography on Instagram @jacobjonasthecompany.

Top left: This photo features Ian Robinson of Batsheva Dance Company. Ian is a very raw artist. Most times when shooting dancers, I find one pose. With Ian, he just improvised along the backside of the Venice Handball Courts.
Bottom left: Instagram has been a powerful platform for me to connect with creatives. Photographed here is a current dancer with my company, Joy Brown, who originally reached out to me through Instagram to take photos. This is from our first session in front of the Ball-Nogues Studio public art sculpture “Cradle” on Santa Monica’s Fourth Street.
Right: This past year I produced “To the Sea: Dance Concerts on the Pier.” We had remarkable dancers from around the world perform. Pictured here is Audrey Case under the pier for our project #CamerasandDancers.

Top: My introduction into dance was with a street performing group called The Calypso Tumblers. I often go back to visit, and recently grabbed this shot of two performers between shows.
Middle left: The architecture of the Venice Handball Courts creates interesting shadows at midday. This shot features Rauf Yasit and Jill Wilson.
Middle right: I love finding clean backgrounds to shoot in, so the Venice Handball Courts are a frequent go-to location. This image features my great friends and frequent collaborators Lamonte Goode and Rauf Yasit. I always have a blast working with them, as the process to find the right position is truly a collaborative effort.
Bottom: Cloudy days are rare in Santa Monica, so you have to take advantage of them. I took this photo of my girl-friend, Jill Wilson, early in the morning on Santa Monica Beach.