Interview with Dancer Mary Susan Sinclair Kuenning

Mary Susan Sinclair Kuenning joined me for a photo shoot and we had a great time getting comfortable and creative to give her the shots she needs for auditions and marketing.
nyc dance photographer rachel neville mary susan sinclair
After the photo shoot, Mary Susan and I talked about the difference between preparing for a photo shoot and an audition or performance, what surprised her about the experience and some of the great, new work she is doing on her own and with her dance company, Mosaic Dance Theater.
As a dancer, how do you prepare for a photo shoot?  In what ways is it similar to/different from preparing for an audition?
A photo shoot is a very different process for me than preparing for class or for an audition.  I always make sure I have a healthy breakfast, a green juice with protein added, or a banana with green tea, I love matcha for that extra kick! Then I usually grab everything I can think of in my closet a d drawers.  You never know what will look good in a photograph!  Before I leave I do a full warm up and stretch, so I am ready for the shoot and I don’t have to warm up too long there.  Then I grab a Clif bar, drag many bags to the studio, and off we go!
Before shooting, what were your expectations for the experience?
I had no idea what to expect!  I knew from your photos that you work with amazing dancers, and know how to really show the PERSON in the photo, in the moment you capture.  I was nervous, even though I have I known you a bit through Village Gyrotonic and a mutual friend.  I expected the session to be intense, but really the more relaxed I became, the more enjoyable the shoot was.
middle eastern dance company new jersey dance photographer rachel neville
How did your expectations compare to the reality of the photo shoot?
The time flew by!  Even though I was tired at the end, I felt a great sense that you had facilitated capturing everything I wanted, and I hadn’t really noticed.  I was just moving.  It was such an incredibly supportive environment.
Did you learn anything at the shoot that you will carry with you to the audition process?
Yes!  It’s always a good idea to be more confident and completely go for it, not to hold back because it may not be perfect.  And even if I think my shoulders are relaxed, take a breath and relax them more.
What is your inspiration for much of your work?
My inspiration comes from my sensory experiences; when I hear music, when I see other dancers, the smell of spring, flowers.
middle eastern dance company nj dancer photo by Rachel Neville
When you think about how to market yourself as a dancer, what is most important/what do you most want to communicate?
First and most importantly, I want people to know that I am honest.  That I will always try something.  That I revere this art form above all else.
Do you have a favorite brand or style of leotard?
I adore leotards by Natalie, they fit me perfectly!
What do you have coming up for Fall 2013?
I am doing a show in October with my company Mosaic Dance Theater Company in New Jersey in conjunction with and as service to the WAE Center for the Mentally Handicapped.  And we are also having a show in November at the Martha Graham Studios to celebrate our 10th anniversary!
We are a Middle Eastern company, and we do dances from all over the near East and the Mediterranean, such as Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia as well as Raks Sharki (known in the colloquial as belly dance). I am also continuing to audition for modern companies, and I am in the process of choreographing two different pieces.   One is a solo and the other a possible trio or group piece.
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