Behind at the Scenes at the DT October Cover Shoot
by Jeni Tu
November 29, 2001

Hi readers!

The October issue should be reaching your mailboxes any day, if it hasn’t already. The cover, as you’ll see, features Edith Montoya, owner and director of Southern California studio Dance Precisions, and a quartet of her lovely dancers.

I first met Edith a few years ago at a Nationals competition in Las Vegas, and I’ve had the pleasure of watching her kids onstage quite a bit since then. Her students seem to have it all — technique, expressivity and great choreography, to name a few things. But more than anything, they have that “can’t-take-my-eyes-off-you” quality that is truly unusual.

It was the middle of August when I flew from New York City to Placentia, CA — near Laguna Beach — to supervise the shoot. What’s a cover shoot like? Well, it’s a bit like putting together a puzzle. First, we do hair and makeup for an hour; then we shoot for three, varying set-ups and poses. (If you think it’s easy to do nothing but stand and smile for the camera for that long, just ask our subjects — not so much!) There’s a photographer, one or two of his assistants, the subject or subjects, the hair and makeup artist, an editor (like myself) and an art director — which adds up to a lot of people, all with their own opinions on how the shots should look The trick is to follow a plan while allowing for the unexpected to happen. It can be nerve-wracking sometimes, but it never fails to be exciting!

Edith and I shot the breeze as she had her makeup done and the photographer set up. We talked business, mainly — I hadn’t read the article yet, so it was fascinating to hear about the strategies she’s used to grow her studio over the last 20 years. As her students started trickling in, we headed over to where the photographer had set up.

With so many people in each shot, it was a little difficult to art-direct the poses, and Edith and I both wondered aloud how we could really get the energy going. Finally, we turned up the music, and the kids came alive! “Wow, I see why we’re shooting them,” Joe, the photographer said. They performed excerpts from one of their award-winning pieces this year, “Proud Mary,” to the unfailingly upbeat Aretha Franklin tune, and I could see the shoot was really shaping into something special. As the day wound down, the kids gave us all hugs and thanked us for the opportunity — proving they were as genuine and sweet as they were talented.

Be sure to check out their story and photos when you get the issue!

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