Photos & Features

Jemini Abides and Geoff Gariando- photo taken by Jeff Mendoza of Commence Vision Studios

Dance has a way of allowing us to express something that often cannot be expressed in words.  And we see this all the time when we are in a new place, or even travel to another country-partners who don’t even speak the same language end up connecting, through a language without words: the language of dance. It’s like a whole other type of communication is created- between music, movement, and emotions, but no words.

And that thought brings another expression to my mind- “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Because as in dance, there is another art- that of painting, or drawing or photography, that can also help us ‘freeze’ beautiful moments in time, and express those moments in a way that perhaps words just wouldn’t do them justice.

So what if we were to put these two nonverbal communications together- the picture and the dance? What would come of it?  Something amazing- if it’s the right mix of people.  When someone can take photos of passionate, talented dancers in motion, and capture that connection and that energy of that moment, I am in awe not just of both the dancers in the picture, but also of the photographer.

Because it definitely takes a certain kind of eye, a certain kind of artist, to be able to find the most effective angles and lighting and timing to capture photos that allow the viewers to essentially feel ‘what the dancers are feeling’.  But it also takes someone who understands and appreciates people, and all the subtlety of body language, to capture a moment of dance in a photo.  To be able to create that sense of movement in the picture that is ‘stilled’ in a frame, is absolutely incredible.  For we, as the viewers, get a little taste of what it might be like to be the dancers, or to at least be somewhere in that moment with them.

This Photos and Features page is to celebrate these artists- the photographers as well as the dancers in the photos- who are able
to do just that.  They allow us to share in their moment through a picture, and that is an art all on its own.

To find out more about the beautiful header photo currently on this site, check out the Photo Feature #3 on AliRaza Panju.  Ali is an amazing photographer who is very passionate about his craft. You will find a link to more of his photos within the feature.  It is definitely worth the time to take a look at Ali’s inspiring and unique work.

Thank you for the amazing new Christmas and Holiday ornament shots, Ali!

Photo by AliRaza Panju

Photo by AliRaza Panju

Photo by AliRaza Panju
Photo by AliRaza Pan
Photo by AliRaza Panju

Photo by AliRaza Panju


AliRaza Photography


For information on the feature of my fellow Vancouver dancers- Carlos Molina, Nicole Chan and Elina Sumichan, visit Photo Feature #2. It is with great pleasure I was able to share their stories of why dance matters to them, and a little bit about their dance backgrounds.

Carlos Molina and Nicole Chan- photo taken by Elina Sumichan


I am so honored to be able to feature Jeff Mendoza’s work- our first photo feature-on Dance Me Free!  As you will see in the examples below, Jeff is exceptional at what he does. These photos he took of my two beautiful dancer friends- Geoff and Jemini-completely blew me away and led me to be introduced to Mendoza’s work.   But it turns out that Jeff is an expert at many other types of photography as well.  Jeff and the rest of the team at Commence Vision Studios specialize in many areas of photography including wedding photography, headshots, and much more. To find out more about Jeff and his work, click here:

Jemini Abides- photo taken by Jeff Mendoza of Commence Vision Studios

It is with great excitement that I would also like to note that the new header shot at the top of the Dance Me Free page is one of Jeff’s as well, with Jemini as the subject.  Check out some of the photos by Jeff from Geoff and Jemini’s recent photo shoot below: 

Dancer- Jemini Abides is from Oak Harbor, Washington. She was in the military for four years, but is now pursuing a general studies education at a community college in her home town. 


Ever since I was a child, I have loved to dance. I had a very modest and humble lifestyle growing up. My family could not afford music or dance lessons at the time. My music 

was the radio, the living room my studio, and TV screen my mirror. I believe the first style I danced was Hip Hop. The past three to four years I have been studying many other styles such as Ballroom Cha Cha, Samba, Paso Doble, Rumba, Jive, Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, and Viennese Waltz. Most recently, and most proficiently, I have studied and dance Salsa and Bachata.

I have wanted to take dancing photos for a while. A few of my friends are models and they can artfully portray any concept with just the right pose and costume. I wanted to portray the many aspects and emotions of dance, especially in Salsa and Bachata, because I know those the best. Action shots, or photos in mid movement, are my favorite because the emotion intended for that instant in time is captured and can be enjoyed for as long as anyone looks at the pictures. My family and friends do not have the opportunity to see me dance. But through these photos, I hope that they can see and feel the beauty and passion I experience when I am dancing.

I love the freedom I have when I dance. My body moves to express the music in any way the rhythm takes me, and I can share what I feel in a performance. I get the freedom to explore this world of dance, which really does feel like a different dimension. I can dance solo, but I love when I have a partner. We can experience dance at a whole new level together. We create together, we experience the dance together and we experience what each of us contributes to that moment. We make mistakes in the dance together and have each other to “listen to” to get back on the same beat. For me I love how how dancing teaches me about the heart of humanity, the beauty of life and the lives of those around me. – Jemini Abides

Dancer- Geoffrey Lee Gariando is from Western Washington. He is a Project Management Consultant working for a company that focuses on projects and programs that hold a social motive. The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in South Africa, and the Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Relief (related to Japan’s March 2011 earthquake disaster) are a couple of the more recent projects he’s been a part of.


As far as how I started dancing, I was actually too shy to even try dancing until my senior prom. But I began dancing to hip hop and pop music in college. I joined dance groups such as Laua with the Hawaii Club, some hip hop and modern groups, and even was part of a stage combat performance with The Repertory Dance Group.

I began taking salsa lessons in 2009 when a friend asked me to check out The Century Ballroom in Seattle with her. I really liked salsa. In 2011, I started taking bachata classes at Salsa con Todo. I joined their bachata performance team and found it immensely challenging, but even more rewarding. Though I didn’t like bachata when I first started it, now it is my favorite dance, and I still dance salsa, blues and hip hop in the clubs.

When Jemini asked me to do the photo shoot, the thought made me nervous, but then another thought came to my mind: Who says no to a woman like her? (Haha!)

Besides that, I love dance. When I’m having a good night out dancing, I feel confident, playful, and a little bit sexy. And along with my own feelings, if I get the connection I want with a follow, she’ll (heck, sometimes ‘he’ll’- haha!) feel those same emotions as well. Sharing those feelings, even if only for three and a half minutes at a time, can be a touch magical…and/or just really hot. I also do like to follow in salsa and bachata when I get the opportunity. It’s a total mind bender to hold the other end of the communication line. It’s fun in its own right, and it makes me a better lead, too. – Geoff Gariando



Photos by





Jeff Mendoza

of Commence Vision Studios

Dancers- Geoff Gariando and Jemini Abides

Thank you Jeff for the beautiful photos!

And Geoff and Jemini, you made such amazing subjects!


5 thoughts on “Photos & Features

  1. Pingback: Photo Feature #2- Nicole Chan, Carlos Molina, and Elina Sumichan | Dance Me Free

  2. Hey Amigos!! Nice page, I´m Mexican and I will be in Miami from August 6 to 10, I really want to learn some KIZOMBA new steps, could you recomend me some good techers? and also some dance places of salsa in 1 and kizomba? thanks a lot!!!

    • Hi. Sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier. I am not familiar with the Kizomba scene in Miami, but I would have just googled Kizomba in Miami and I’m sure you’ll find some direction in that way. I hope you had a great time in Miami and keep kizomba dancing! 😉

  3. Hi!
    I just love what you are writing and sharing about Kizomba and what dancing can do to your life! I’m living in Helsinki and when the first Kizomba lessons came to us about three years ago, I pretty soon fell in love with this beautiful sensual dance. Within the years and more practise the love only grows stronger. I also feel a need to verbally express what I’m experiencing and why this dance is so powerful. Thank you for filling my hungry cup with this ingredients!

    • Hi there,
      Thank you so much for your message. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment on this. And it is great to meet another kizomba fan, and from Helsinki too! Wow! 🙂
      There are more articles to come on this site. Thanks for reminding me to keep writing. 🙂 It is so worth it when the writing connects me to others with a shared passion for dance.

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