Updated: Aug 15, 2019
Silpa Sadhujan, best known as the incredible eye behind Rince & Repeat Photography, says she’s been obsessed with Irish dance ever since she saw Riverdance for the first time on VHS. She grew up dancing and competing in the New England region through college, but struggled to fit dancing in with her post-college adult life. In an effort to combine her second lifelong passion for visual arts with her love for Irish dance, she took portraits of a dancer at the New England Oireachtas between rounds and shared a bit about the dancer’s journey on Instagram—which has since blossomed into Rince & Repeat Photography. In addition to her on-site portraits in locations such as New York, Glasgow, Dublin, Toronto, and Los Angeles, she recently introduced studio portraits. We caught up with Silpa to hear more about her journey as an artist—both dancer and photographer.
What inspired you to become a dance photographer? More recently, what inspired you to start shooting in a studio in addition to on-site shoots?
I’ve been obsessed with Irish dance ever since I was introduced to it at age 10. I danced recreationally for a while and then competed for a few years through college. My love for dance was only matched by my love for the visual arts. Once I graduated college I had to give up dance because it became tricky for me to balance it with my journey into post-college adult life. But as the saying goes, “once a dancer always a dancer.” I couldn’t shake that feeling of missing dance so one November I took portraits of dancer at the New England Oireachtas between rounds and shared a bit about their dance journey on Instagram. And from there it slowly started to grow until it is what it is today, Rince & Repeat Photography!
I recently introduced dance photo shoots at my photo studio in NYC because I think studio portraits are amazingly beautiful. I’m incredibly inspired by timeless photo shoots like those in Vanity Fair or Vogue magazine. That is the aesthetic I work to bring to my studio shoots. It takes a very skilled photographer/artist to pull off such a look, I know I can bring that beauty to my studio portraits. You think you know what studio portraits are but believe me I will change your perception of that.
What do you love about Irish dance?
Part of me doesn’t really know why I love Irish dance as much as I do. It’s hard to put into words sometimes. Fundamentally, I love the grace of softshoe and the powerful beats of hardshoe. It’s like two sides of a coin, you get the best of both worlds!
Do you think your experience with competitive Irish dance has helped you succeed in your work as a photographer?
My experience as a competitive dancer has been so, so meaningful to my work as a dance photographer. My deep understanding of Irish dance technique allows me to coach my clients on shoots so that their portraits are not only beautiful but technically correct. Beyond technique, I also help my clients expand their artistic horizons by teaching them how to be more emotive and expressive in their photos. You definitely get the model experience! Additionally, on a more holistic level, I understand the passion and sacrifice it takes to be a dancer because I have personally been there too and that helps me bring an additional layer of depth to my photography.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
One of my favorite quotes goes something like this: “never base your life decisions on someone who isn’t invested in your well being and the results.”
This world is full of opinions about what you should and should not be doing. If I had listened to half the things I was told not to do, the best and most genuine experiences of my life would never have happened, and honestly I probably wouldn’t be doing this amazing job either. Ultimately you have to live your own life, and most people giving you advice have no stake in the outcome and your happiness. Of course, be sure that your choices are sound and well thought out but if your inner voice is telling you something don’t let someone else talk you out of it. You do you!
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