I came out of the womb dancing, and began my classical training at the age of three. Dance consumed my life outside of school work, and I happily gave myself to it. After college, I found myself living a dream I hadn't believed was available to me, an Indian girl from the suburbs: being a professional touring dancer with Cirque du Soleil, Madonna, and then A.R. Rahman. It was during this time, surrounded and influenced by some of the most powerful, creative minds in the industry, that I picked up a camera to document every wondrous, spandex-covered moment backstage and around the world, and discovered my love of visual storytelling.

 

After 10 years on the road, I left the commercial dance industry to follow a calling from within to explore my personal relationship with dance as a spiritual practice and vehicle for individual and social healing. This was when I turned my passion for photography into my career, and turned my dance career into my soul’s work. These days I dance as an act of service, and most recently was invited to dance a prayer for our oceans at the United Nations reception for World Oceans Day in nyc. 

As a portrait photographer, I remain in awe of the unscripted transformations that so often unfold, both subtle and profound, during one-on-one portrait photography sessions, in which the human in front of me, in their internal process of finding the courage to be seen, is granted calm, creative space to relax deeper into unexplored corners of themselves and radiate their innate, natural beauty from the power they find there.

Each one of us is an endlessly fascinating and constantly emerging mystery, most especially to ourselves. I believe that my job is to meet others exactly where they are with open-hearted curiosity, to see and to feel, and to translate what I sense into pieces of art that can further spread the light of incredible people who are working so hard in so many ways to help humanity thrive—from healthcare professionals healing the wounded in hospitals, to yoga and meditation teachers increasing wellness in their communities, to artists shaping our world with their voices, to independent businesses and nonprofit organizations driven by a mission to serve.

I am a certified teacher of the 5Rhythms Waves® movement meditation practice, continuing in the lineage of Gabrielle Roth, my beloved mentor and mother of the conscious dance movement, whom I served as creative assistant and artistic ally for the last decade of her life. I'm grateful to be able to offer classes globally in the ground level of Gabrielle's profoundly transformative body of work, wherever my travels take me.

 

The unadorned truth is the most beautiful.

In my ongoing work in both photography and dance, my aim is to get out of the way and stay in service to what the moment is asking, and to give rise to a world in which the shapes of our souls are set free. 

Thank you for your time.

I'd love to learn more about what drives you,

and I would love the opportunity to help you share your work with the world.

ALL IMAGES (EXCEPT OTHERWISE CREDITED) © NILAYA SABNIS 2020, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.