Virtually no photographer has got as close to the dancers at a Chinese club as Ukrainian photographer Sergey Melnitchenko. He was with them backstage, offering a rare insight into life in the cheap entertainment business. His own experience as a dancer served him well. With great sensitivity, the images reveal the reality of a tough profession despite its frolicsome appearance under the spotlight.
“This is the reverse” says Sergey, “the invisible side of the club, the atmosphere, a part of which I became. Behind the scenes, there is more burlesque than on the stage, the concentration of sexual fluids is more powerful than oxygen.”
Contrary to the masked illusion created by the subjects’ stage performance, their life away from the stage is not a scene; the girls aren’t taking selfies, some lying around exhausted, others stare bored into nothingness, put on their make-up, await their next performance. He explains: “There’s no falsehood – it’s not a scene, it’s their everyday life, our life, or rather mine.” Exactly because their lives are brought into focus by one of their own, their sexual appearance gains depth it lacks on stage; the parody of their performance gains even more strength than the image conveyed to the public.
‘Behind The Scene’ is the Winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack 2017 Series Award.
– Discover more of Sergey Melnitchenko’s work here.