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Hamilton Swings

It was an enormous honor to work with on of the Hamilton Swings, Kamille Upshaw. Kamille came by my studio on a cold winter day, and we spent several hours documenting her incredibly fluid dance style.

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Kamille was born in Washington, DC. She studied at and graduated from the Baltimore School for the Arts. She was graduate of the Juilliard school in 2011. Kamille has performed with Darrell Grand Moultrie. She has also performed in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of "Faust." Kamille was part of the Rasta Thomas’s Bad Boys of Dance during their 2011-2012 tour. She has performed with Alicia Keys. Kamille was also part of the national tour of the musical Flashdance.

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Kamille is one of the swings for Hamilton, an American Musical. Hamilton is currently on Broadway. As a swing, Kamille has a huge responsibility! A swing is basically an ensemble understudy, but instead of learning one part, they learn many! The swing has to be able to step into any of the ensemble members’ roles at a moment’s notice. In an interview for Dance Informa, Hamilton swing Andrew Chappelle described the skills necessary to be a great swing. He said "When you are in previews, the show is changing every day, and you need to be able to adapt and implement those changes in the show at night…As a swing, you have to be able to do that for all the tracks you cover. The way to train yourself to do that is by taking several dance classes. This works that muscle in your brain to pick up choreography and all the details that accompany it."

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Kamille is a fantastic performer, and I’ve seen her in Hamilton twice. Once she covered the track normally performed by original cast member Betsy Struxness. The second time, she was covering for Ariana DeBose, otherwise known as "the bullet." Each time she followed Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography personally, while bringing her Juilliard-trained sensibility and grace to the performances. Any time Kamille is performing in Hamilton, the audience is surely in for a great treat.

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It was an honor to have her join me in the studio. Hair and makeup for the shoot were done by the incomparable Michelle Elise Artistry, who is always brilliant at what she does! This image was lit by a single Profoto D1 Monolight and an Elinchrom Octa. The grace, charm, and soul of the image is Kamille’s own. Being a swing might be a tough job, especially in a show like Hamilton, but Kamille approaches it with a skill and grace that almost makes it seem easy!

. 1/100; f/6.3; ISO 400; 85.0 mm.