Anna Marie Panlilio is a San Francisco-based photographer who seeks to capture heightened states of movement, of people and energy within a space, and the heightened states of emotion intrinsic to that energy. When I graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, I was jobless but full of hope. My destination was clear: return to California and enter the job market as an editor or graphic designer. I kept telling myself, “Only something truly amazing would keep me in Chicago.” One month after graduation, the amazing happened. I auditioned for and was accepted into the founding ensemble of the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, a tap and jazz dance company in Chicago.
Dancing professionally was not something I had been chasing since I was a child, not something I made a lot of sacrifices for nor lost a lot of sleep over. It was, essentially, a dream come true. What I uncovered during four years with JRJP were invaluable lessons and experiences. The biggest surprise was that following my heart is excruciatingly hard. The life of a part-time professional dancer brought more challenges than I expected: how to let myself be vulnerable onstage and off; how to be honest with my emotions so that I can connect with the other dancers and with the audience; how to be good to myself so that I can be good to others; how to fight for something and stay with it when it does not go well at first.
I became a dancer with the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project not only because I love to move but also because I love to move to jazz music. It is this same love for jazz dancing that feeds my photography pursuits. Taking a photograph is like hitting a syncopation — you either get it or you don’t. Ultimately, I left JRJP to study photography in Italy so that I could increase my chances of “getting it” —of amassing the skills I needed to capture singular moments of motion and emotion on film. And just as I had grown to love the exhilaration and fear of sharing my emotions with audiences as a dancer, I continue to pursue the production of photographs that can make others stop to revel in them.
- I have a middle name, and it’s not Marie. (It’s Ferrer)
- My two first names are equal in importance. (So please don’t call me Anna)
- Similarly, I have not settled on having just one artistic pursuit in my life. Instead, I juggle my passions for photography and dance to maintain balance. (And when I am luckiest, I combine the two)