The PLI.Ē Project is something we’ve never seen before. We were amazed to see a variety of our papers turned into incredible fashion for dancers, and travel around the world. Each city, paper and dancer were specifically selected to create meaning within each photograph. We interviewed Pauline Loctin (@misscloudy), a paper artist, and Melika Dez (@melika.dez), movement photography, about the PLI.Ē project. The project matches dancers with the art of folded paper bringing you a series of photographs taking place in some of the most beautiful cities. Here is the story of the dancers in their beauty and their difference.
Where the project all began.
I met a photographer, Melika Dez, that specializes in movement photography, including all kinds of dancing: ballet, street dancing, aerial. After our meeting, Melika came across my installations and paper dresses and asked if I could create some dresses for some of the dancers she works with. I was excited because I’ve never created paper dresses for anyone to actually move in, let alone dance in. And the collaboration began.
We began with shooting two dancers from NYC, Michael Jackson and Akua Noni Parker, in a studio in Montreal. I created my first white tutu for the dancers and immediately noticed the potential. I wanted to create something even more different, something no one has ever seen before. I needed to steer away from white paper and get involved in more color. So I created colorful accessories, scarfs, hats and masks. I made a large red flower dress, and an African scarf consisting of so many different colors and detail, you could barely tell it was paper.
After a successful photoshoot in the studio, we decided to take it one step further. Melika shoots with a unique style, street dancing, so why not take it to the streets, our first challenge. The street photoshoot would begin in New York City, working with six different dancers. The more costumes I began making, the more I wanted to do. Every time I finished one, I had a new idea. Legion Paper came in just in time after noticing the very start of the project. This is where I was able to take my creativity further, with their endless selection of papers, papers I’ve never seen before. There were so many things to do with this new library of papers.
The project began to grow, and new cities were added. The PLI.Ē Project traveled to Paris then Rome, and Montreal, but wasn’t going to stop there. More cities will be added, and the first exhibition is opening in Montreal. It’s just the beginning!
How did Cultural Diversity play a part in the PLI.É Project?
(Pauline [PL] and Melika [MD])
We wanted to highlight the beauty of bodily differences among dancers. Too often, dancers are judged for their body and movements: their color and curves. They spend days looking at themselves through mirrors. Throughout the PLI.É Project, the participating dancers saw themselves in a positive way. Some even say it was the first time they saw themselves in a photo and saw their beauty.
The fragility of the papers accentuates the incredible strength of the dancers. Strength that is also present in their own stories.
Which papers did you use for the project?
I started with the papers I had locally. When Legion reached out with my many different papers, there was so much I wanted to do with all the different and beautiful options. It helps with creativity to see all the different paper options in front of you. I had no idea how much variety there is. “Paper” is a very broad term.
I fell in love immediately with all the Colorplan colors. We used so many of them. The blues, browns, reds. We even used several in one dress with imperial blue as the base and colored stripes on top. There are so many papers, but the quality of Colorplan is a step above.
We also used a variety of Mirri Papers. They were so different from anything I’ve seen before. The Mirri card colors used were copper, gun metal, purple, pink and blue. We also used Mirri Sparkle, and Mirri Rainbow. All in the 12pt weight, since it’s not too heavy to fold, or too light for the tutu to stay in place. Mirri reflects light creating a beautiful photograph and stunning tutu.
How did the locations and dancers’ personalities affect the papers you chose?
[PL and MD]
Both the place and paper choices strongly effected the effect we were looking for. All components were considered at each photoshoot. We actually chose different papers specifically for each dancer. We wanted to fit the dress to their personalities. Melika said, in her photography, she tends to find a location that suits the dancers and their movements. Each dancer moves differently.
One of the most meaningful photoshoots, was the group shot using flesh tone papers (Colorplan Harvest, Stone, Nubuck Brown). We wanted to steer away from the stereotypical pink tutu. We adapted the color of the paper to the dancers’ skin tone and want to emphasize the beauty of unconventional features as well as the importance of culture. This photoshoot was done in Brooklyn, with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background, surrounded by stone to match the colors of the papers.
We used Mirri Rainbow at key locations in Montreal with skylines and concrete. To us. Mirri Rainbow has a modern look that match the modern buildings of Montreal. We wouldn’t use this type of paper in a place like Rome, where the architecture is older and has an antique feel. In Rome, we used Colorplan Bright Red. We felt red matches the fiery personality of the Italian culture and was the Italian ballerinas favorite color. Lastly, Mirri Sparkle was used in Paris, to make a fashion statement, to symbolize the twinkling lights of the city at night.
What worked well with the papers? Any obstacles?
Of course, creating dresses or any type of clothing with paper is a challenge… especially when dancers have to move in them!
It actually rained for some of the shots. I was surprised how well the papers help up, especially the Mirri. Colorplan still held together well, but rain was more visible on the paper. The rain did give it a different and interesting look we liked! Most papers wouldn’t have stood up to the rain.
Folding the paper was a lot of physical work, but it all folded very well. This was the way we chose the papers we did.
Sizing the models was another challenge. I used my own body for the fitting and since each model was different, we used Velcro and paper clips to enclose the back. We also added Velcro on the inside at the waist area to make it more comfortable, although there was no complaining of discomfort!
We aren’t finished yet! We would love to add more cities. Possibly London and Tokyo. Also Rio because one of the dancers we worked with was from there. And Cuba, because they have some of the most amazing dancers in the world. We want to open more exhibitions after the first in Montreal in cities all around the world.
There’s more to come!