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CAPA grad pays homage to African American dancers

It’s hard for dancers, especially young women, to stand out in the crowd of talent currently populating the global scene. But a collection of giant photos at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture might do the trick.

Joy-Marie Thompson, a Rochester, N.Y., native and a junior at Purchase College, State University of New York, is the star of “Interpretations,” an exhibition on display through Feb. 26 at the Downtown venue.

Last summer, she and her mother, Jill Thompson, were discussing how she could promote herself before she graduated. Her mother, an interior designer and leather/​jewelry artist who has been featured at the Three Rivers Arts Festival, had a brilliant idea: show off her daughter’s moves while also paying homage to African-American dance artists in a photo exhibition. Then the dancer jumped in:

“If we’re going to do this, we have to do it right. We have to bring in a well-known, established photographer,” she said.

As it happened, the young alumnus of Paula Scriva Studio and Pittsburgh CAPA was a fan of New York photographer Rachel Neville on Instagram. Contacting her turned out to be simple: just call Ms. Neville on the phone. She answered, heard the concept and was excited “from the jump.”