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Melissa, the circus performer
It’s not every day that you see circus performers on the Downtown Mall, so when I saw Melissa walking on some startlingly high stilts, while her companions were juggling and dancing around with a hula hoop, you can image that my interest was piqued. I approached Melissa, whose bright smile, colorful ribbons in her hair, and cool Asian-inspired top all seemed to cry out to be photographed. She leaned down — she was on some really tall stilts — and I explained my project to her and asked her if she would be willing to come down and let me make a portrait. At first she suggested that I try one of her on the stilts, but I demurred. So she took the stilts off, and we walked over to a nearby wall, where this portrait was made.
Melissa told me that she is fascinated by and skilled in the circus arts, specifically fire dancing and belly dancing, and that she had taken up stilt-walking only three days before. I was pretty shocked by this, and you would have been, as well, if you had seen how comfortable and steady she was on her stilts. She told me that after this year’s Burning Man, she had set the goal for herself of learning how to walk on stilts within the next year, and it looks like she met her goal almost immediately. It’ll be interesting to see what she tackles next.
Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, VA