Her work has graced Vogue Italia, The Washington Post, Elements Magazine, and NBC News… but her current passion project might be her all-time favorite.
“I started this photo series 2 years ago on a whim,” said Ružica Puśkaś-Ragontse, professional photographer and Baltimore mom. ” I love watching Lerato dance on stage but I don’t always get to spend time with her because she has such a rigorous schedule. This was a way for us to spend time together, as artists and as mother and daughter, doing something we both love.”
The project? A photo series entitled “Portrait of a Dancer” that she’s publishing to her website and Instagram feed — in collaboration with her 15-year-old daughter Lerato. Ružica’s eye for styling and fashion photography is evident in every image — as is Lerato’s talent. In a fast-paced world of crazy schedules, the project has given them the opportunity to spend time together as artists. Something they both have cherished.
“Over the course of her dance journey, I use to take my camera with me to performances… but I soon started to realize how watching her through my lens would not allow me to enjoy the moment (dances are literally a few minutes long usually). I stopped so that I could be fully present as a mum” said Ružica.
Looking at the series, one can tell there is a graceful ease between photographer and dancer that transcends the photos.
“The lens gives me a different perspective both artistically and objectively as a photographer. For those few minutes, it becomes about capturing movement, shapes and expression versus just [capturing] my daughter,” said Ružica.
Ruzica is no stranger to photographing young women. You may remember her work as part of our What Kind of Women Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up video. She believes strongly in empowering young girls and using photography as a way to do so.
While Portrait of a Dancer has been way for Ružicaa and Lerato to connect, they also hope it inspires other young dancers of color. On social media, the series photos are hashtagged #BrownGirlsDoBallet.
“#Browngirlsdoballet is a platform that inspires and empowers dancers of color to pursue their passion,” said Lerato. “Since Misty Copeland, there have been more dancers of color that we can look up to. They have existed but we really didn’t have access to them.”
She loves the project because it’s a chance to bond with her mom. And it is helping her become more confident in front of the lens. Her favorite photo? The jungle themed shoot because it was her first real styled shoot.
The juxtaposition between the dancer and the dynamic backdrop is one of the first things draws you to photos. A few of the locations have been places where Ružica has photographed fashion editorials over the years; she says it’s nice to return but with a fresh and more personal perspective.
“There is no particular statement per say [about the series],” said Ružica. “However, being in the dance circuit, we have noticed limited diversity. For others like Lerato, it is nice for others to see the possibilities if you have the passion and opportunity.”
Watching this mom and daughter duo’s passion and creativity fuse? Simply graceful.
Editor’s Note: Photos courtesy of Ružica Puśkaś-Ragontse.