full interviews with Juliet & Joel

Ballet dancer Juliet Burnett and photographer Joel Benguigui talk about the collaboration with Darshana Shilpi Rouget, founder of Alba Amicorum.

joel benguigui
Joel Benguigui

When I met Alba Amicorum’s founder, we didn’t talk about collaboration. We talked about life, about my encounter with my family in Indonesia.

Then we started sharing on a more creative level, and I fell in love with Darshana’s creative platform. We waited for the right moment to collaborate and found inspiration in dance, Pina Bausch and Kazuo Ōno, and the importance of negative space brought by Juliet.

I am totally self-taught, and as far as I remember, I’ve had cameras in my hands forever. I recently found the first camera I owned – a Kodak 110 film camera redesigned and rebranded by Fisher-Price. I was about 6.

I see portrait photography as a dialogue – a non-formal conversation between 2 individuals, or more, who feel comfortable enough to open up on the one hand, and listen and capture on the other. A deep sense of trust is necessary, especially when I’m embedded in a documentary. And I believe this is where I find the essence of photography – in recording stories.

I felt like our collaboration made sense. There is no way describe how it felt for me, to work on a series of images involving Juliet – first solo dancer and the Royal Ballet of Flander – and the extraordinary vision of artist and art director Darshana Rouget. I had this very strong desire of combining art, dance and photography, and I believe everything happens for a reason.

The challenge for this series was to feel the essence of each artist and scarf, and capture Juliet bringing to them a new creative dimension. A dialogue between artists, each one with a story, a vision, a sensibility. The most important for me, regardless of whomever I am collaborating with, is to always try to focus on the emotional, the personal story.

It was somehow both surprising and expected to see how Juliet could bring Darshana’s work to life. Her movement gives a beautiful 3-dimensional aspect and extracts the spirit and soul from each scarf. We gave each other unlimited freedom to create this series of photographs.

This collaboration makes me feel like exploring new territories and streamline my photography. It woke a deep desire for making images loaded with emotions, bare, raw, yet full of beauty. And looking at the images we created, I’m very impatient to see what’s coming next with Darshana and Juliet!

I’ve had a deep love for dance for decades. As a kid, I even wanted to study ballet, but I ended up being enrolled in a football team. It lasted less than 6 months. I started working with dancers in 2017, and now this collaboration with Juliet. Combining dance and photography is to me a very exciting experience and challenge.