Throughout her studies at Ringling College of Art and Design,  Sorcha Augustine serendipitously fell in the Ringling model pool as a nude figure model for artists to sketch—holding beautiful dance-like poses and testing the boundaries of her body to do magnificent things. “Dance puts the human body in this extreme form of how can we push it and what does it look like in its most quote-unquote ‘ideal’ form,” she says. Acclaimed local artist James Martin once sketched her hunched over on her tippy toes gracefully bare, with hair descending down the page—an image that has since been published in the international art magazine ImagineFX. It seems to come natural to Augustine, who finds it ironic that modeling is not her first or foremost creative passion. “To work with artists on this level is really rewarding because I feel like I’m living out this piece of my life to its fullest,” she says, “but as a supplement to my photography.” And building her career as a dance photographer has been the goal all along. She currently shoots dancers’ headshots, dress rehearsals and marketing content for Dance University in Lakewood Ranch and Onyx Studio 2, while also capturing shots at ballroom competitions—with three of the biggest organizers in the country here in Sarasota. But it’s her long-standing relationship with Sarasota Contemporary Dance she largely thanks for growing her photography career, growing alongside a company that’s become “a beast” in this artful community—gaining experience with the dancers in the studio and on the stage. And Augustine’s modeling past unknowingly created an undeniable connecting point for her and her subjects. “Modeling became this avenue for learning and practicing gesture, and having a better way to talk to the dancers about their bodies,” she says. “Figure modeling has given me a really beautiful sense of my own body and what it looks like, the feeling on the other side. That’s really important when I’m making photographs, because it isn’t always about lighting or balance—it’s capturing the archetypal character coming through.” After 10 years of oscillating between being put on the pedestal as the muse and morphing into the one in service to the muse, Augustine’s ready to fully focus on establishing herself as a theatre photographer. Her innate understanding for what it takes in front of the camera has empowered her behind it—shutter button ready to seize breathtaking action shots of dancers in their most vulnerable state. “Dancers get into this ethereal space sometimes, and I strive to get that sense of intimacy—of being with them in that moment when they’re completely outside their mindset of ‘How does this look? What do I have to perform?’” she says. “There’s this divine space above that. It’s like capturing an essence of a feeling.”

Photo by Wyatt Kostygan.