I’ve always been fascinated with foreign countries and their richness in expression from the way they dress, the things they eat, their languages and different dialects they speak and just their cultures and way of life.
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel far and wide and experience so many strange and wonderful things. During my last adventure in South East Asia I became obsessed with Eastern culture and the history behind so many of their deep rooted cultural heritage and was just amazed at how from young to old that people all round were still keeping these old rituals like dancing in the most traditional dress alive today.
Which really caught my attention was the Thai and Cambodian Apsara dancers which prompted some research and investigation to find out exactly what their gestures and postures actually mean.
And what I found was a beautiful unspoken language written in movement and age old traditions. With the help of a friend and fellow enthusiast of Eastern Cultures Cathy Box, we planned and collaborated to create a unique looking photoshoot trying to capture the essence of some of their long held traditions.
The hand gestures are what they call Asamyuta Hastas and every single one used during their elaborate dance signifies something and tells a story. The gesture specifically focused on during our shoot was a gesture is also known as Hamsasya which translated means “Fruit” or bearing fruit. This was partly because majority of the other gestures are almost impossible without prior training; some of which takes years to perfect and mean that from a young age these Apsara dancers are sculpted and moulded so to speak, to enable them after years of practice to perform these dances and gestures accurately and precisely.
Cathy also being a collector of all things old and beautiful compiled an ensemble and we captured it for her in studio and these were the results
Model – Cathy Box
Concept & Photography – Neil Van Schalkwyk
Drawn To Light Studios
Camera – Canon 5DSR