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Hajar Benjida’s images of Atlanta’s unique dancers provide an alternate view


Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

In Snap, we have a look at the ability of a single {photograph}, chronicling tales about how each trendy and historic photographs have been made.

When Hajar Benjida started photographing unique dancers across the Atlanta space, she did not need to take typical photographs of them acting on stage. As a substitute, she photographed most of the ladies at residence, together with Cleo, who had just lately given delivery to a child boy named Andy.

One among Benjida’s putting photographs consists like a contemporary Madonna and Youngster, with the then new mom cradling her son in her lap, eyes assembly the digital camera. Her mesh prime — a classic Jean Paul Gaultier piece with the Mona Lisa gazing out — is nudged up simply excessive sufficient for Andy to breastfeed.

“Generally folks neglect (they) have households exterior of the membership,” Benjida mentioned over a video name. “They only need to glamorize the life, or the efficiency they’ve seen on stage.”

The portrait, a part of Benjida’s sequence titled “Atlanta Made Us Well-known,” celebrates the lesser-credited gamers of town’s famed hip-hop scene, which has been the launching pad for artists from T.I. and Ludacris to Younger Thug and Playboi Carti. By means of the sequence, the Dutch photographer, who was working in Atlanta on the time, turned her consideration to who she believed to be the true kingmakers of the music business: the unique dancers at legendary golf equipment like Magic Metropolis.

Cleo and Andy at home.

Cleo and Andy at residence. Credit score: Hajar Benjida

“They play a very massive half (in) the present hits that we hear,” Benjida mentioned. “(The songs) get examined out within the golf equipment. When these ladies dance to it….the viewers goes with it.”

The dancers, thought-about the “film stars” of Atlanta, in response to Lauren Greenfield’s 2015 documentary about Magic Metropolis, have the ability to make or break a observe via their music requests and enthusiasm for brand new music. Unreleased, unmixed tracks come straight from the studio to the membership, and in the event that they fare properly, will be propelled straight to radio stations and ultimately music charts.

“The DJs and the dancers are extra like A&Rs,” mentioned Diamond, a dancer in Greenfield’s documentary, referring to the expertise scouts at report labels. “We all know what we love to bop to and we all know a success after we hear it.”

A single body

Benjida took posed portraits of the ladies backstage or at residence with an intimate and tender sensibility. As a substitute of going for the attract of uncooked intercourse attraction or peformance, the dancers usually seem relaxed however confident, gazing instantly on the viewer. One lady holds her twins on her lap, whereas one other lays supine along with her hand resting above her pregnant stomach.

Cleo lives in Stone Mountain, a suburb exterior of town, and on the time, in 2019, was commuting to work in numerous golf equipment throughout the week. Benjida spent the day along with her at residence, and although many photographs had been posed, the second she took the strongest body was by probability.

“Mid-shoot she was breastfeeding her child and I requested her for one shot,” Benjida mentioned. “I did not even see the picture immediately…so I actually needed to belief in that one shot.”

Cleo and Andy at home one year later.

Cleo and Andy at residence one yr later. Credit score: Hajar Benjida

However seeing the power within the particulars — the same hairstyles of Cleo and Leonardo’s enigmatic well-known topic and the Renaissance-like composition, she knew the ability of that single body.

One yr later, she returned to Stone Mountain to {photograph} the pair once more — this time exterior of their residence. Like most of the photographs in “Atlanta Made Us Well-known” the portrait radiates a way of confidence, foregrounding the ladies who’re the spine of Atlanta’s hip-hop scene. Cleo holds Andy on her hip, her ombre orange hair matching the youngsters’s McLaren sports activities automotive beside them. However right here, if you happen to look carefully, there’s one other delicate reminder of her motherhood: two matching orange toy vehicles tucked contained in the platforms of her heels.



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