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Dancers’ grace and poise will be captured in photography book

Staff Writer

OLD BRIDGE — An Old Bridge dancer is about to give the performance of her young lifetime.

Photographer Jonathan Givens is on a 90-day, 22,000-mile, 56-location road trip across the contiguous U.S., Alaska and Hawaii to photograph dancers in national parks and historic locations.

“We believe that by photographing talented dancers in these nationally significant locations, we will both increase the interest in dance as well as expose people to the accessibility and majesty of our country,” he said.

Therefore, he put out a call on social media for dancers who wanted to participate in his special project.

Jessica Esposito, 13, of Old Bridge, responded to the call and will participate in a photo shoot on Sept. 14 at Buttermilk Falls in Layton.

“We received over 2,800 submissions, and from that chose 300 finalists, and narrowed that down to 150 participants. We had over 100 New Jersey applicants, but Jessica stood out. She has beautiful lines and lovely extension, and we were happy to have her join us,” Givens said.

After his journey on the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Givens plans to create a photography book titled “Dance Across the USA” with all the images captured during this historic project.

Jessica said she has been dancing since she was a year old. Her favorite dance style is contemporary, and she practices for about four hours a day, four times a week.

“I like to express myself and I feel I can do that with contemporary,” she said.

The Old Bridge High School freshman is a member of Fierce Academy of Dance in Old Bridge, previously taking part in recitals and competitions through Dance Stop in Monroe.

“I feel like dancing is special. You get to express yourself, not through words, but through what you’re doing and how you’re moving,” she said.

She said she sent in a photo and video of herself to Givens, but “didn’t really expect anything out of it.” When she received an email revealing her selection for the book, “I thought it was pretty cool,” she said.

Jessica said she is nervous for the shoot, “but I think it will be fun.”

Jessica’s world extends outside the dance studio. Though she has volunteered at her dance school as a student demonstrator for the last two years, she also participated in the Old Bridge Paraprofessionals Association Shoe Drive, collecting 75 pairs of shoes for their fundraiser.

In addition, she has walked in the Light the Night Walk in Staten Island, New York, for a few years, raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of her grandfather and will participate again on Oct. 1.

Once published, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to national parks as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. To donate to Givens’ mission, visit www.crowdrise.com/dance-across-the-usa/fundraiser/danceatusa.

For more information, visit www.danceatusa.com.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@gmnews.com.

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