The first time I met Giulia Piolanti was at the Toscana Photographic Workshops in 2003. At that point, I was very new to working with models, and I had decided to attend a workshop with Andreas H. Bitesnich. By the way, I want to mention that Andreas was unimposing and very encouraging to me personally, and I am very grateful to him for that.
Anyway, we were shooting in a sort of makeshift studio/wine cellar in an old, dusty Tuscan farmhouse. I had met Giulia very briefly during introductions on the day before. She seemed a bit shy, but one of the students had mentioned that he had heard she was a dancer. This got my immediate attention. I approached Giulia, not certain that she could speak English.
"I heard that you are a dancer?"
"Si," she replied.
"Can you do any jumps?" I asked.
"Ummm, si, no problemo" nodding her head in assurance.
"Great, I would love to try to shoot some jumps" I responded, with a tingle running up my neck.
It was not yet my turn to shoot, so Giulia stepped off to the side of the crowded room to start warming up. Just watching her warm up was enough to impress me. She started contorting herself in all directions. Bending her head back to her thighs, bending her feet over her head to the floor in front of her. She was like a human pretzel, I thought she must be made of Silly Putty. I had no idea what was coming next.
When my turn came up, I asked her to just show me a typical jump. "A-one, a-two, a-tree, go" she counted. Then, as if time came to a slow crawl, I saw her throw herself into the air and fold into a glorious form right before my eyes. It was incredible, I had never seen anything like it before in my life. The photo attached is just one of the images we created together that day.
I will never forget that experience. In the blink of an eye, I knew immediately that I wanted more. Of course, Giulia and I still work together. I will see her in April when I visit her in Tokyo. She is currently living there, starring in a Cirque du Soleil production, titled 'Zed'.