Move and Groove Selfies


By Jona Jaupi

“I want to feel like I’m flying away and magical,” Mickael Jou tells BTR. “This is my world; the thing about photography is that everyone has their own world.”

Jou is a 30-year-old dancer and photographer originally from Oregon. He currently lives in Berlin, a known hub of creativity. But what makes Jou so different from the plethora of other artists who reside in the German capital? His first photography project.

Jou began his personal series nearly three years ago, which consists of taking 365 self-portraits around the world while he is dancing.

“When I dance it’s all about emotions and how I feel, but regular dance photos don’t really capture that,” Jou says.

He explains how his desire was to capture the emotions he felt while dancing through photography. Since he embarked on the photographic journey, Jou has captured himself dancing throughout several places including France, Germany, Taiwan, and Dubai.

While he presently lives in Germany, he cites France as the place where he developed his passions for dance–both ballet and modern–and photography. Jou was initially a foreign exchange student in Paris before deciding to move there full time.

“One day I saw this girl dancing in front of this [Paris] museum, some people gave her money,” Jou recalls, “so I started dancing in front of people for money.”

The moment proved to be a defining one for Jou. He began to dance in open spaces such as parks and soccer fields.

“It felt very natural to me, being that I’m ethnically from Taiwan and they exercise outside,” Jou reasons.

He continues to explain how before he knew it, Jou established a strong passion for dance. In addition, when he danced throughout the streets of Paris, tourists would try to photograph his moves. He eventually bought a camera to document his favorite hobby.

Jou thinks that it will take him another three years to finish his ongoing portrait project.

“I’m still living life and doing other stuff, you know,” Jou admits. “Although I love this, I do it whenever I have time.”

Currently, Jou is working as a photographer’s assistant and training for an intense Spartan obstacle race five days a week.

When asked about his end goal for the project, Jou explains that he wants to have a positive influence on others.

“When I started this project, I actually made photos that I could look back on and reflect on,” he says. His mission now is to provide “photos that can inspire people and that are uplifting.”

All photos courtesy of Mickael Jou.