Kennedi Carter captures dance and culture in Memphis, Tennessee
In town for a contest, the photographer documented the Southern city's unique energy and style.
On a hot weekend in early October, photographers, journalists, content creators and influencers attended the Memphis leg of the Red Bull Dance Your Style freestyle dance regional qualifier. There was praise and reverence at the holy sights of Memphis’ legendary Soulsville neighbourhood, the ancestral home of many soul music pioneers, and the Lorraine Motel, the unwilling monument where Martin Luther King Jr. took his last breath. Those of us in attendance floated through the city, listening to blues classics performed like gospel on any given corner of historic Beale Street, and fellowshipping over cold beer and catfish in the back corners of dimly lit sugar shacks.
The benediction: a Sunday evening dance competition hosted at Memphis hangout, Railgarten. As the sun set, we gathered to watch Black and brown dancers with varying styles tell stories with their bodies, through movements and freestyle choreography that honoured the cities and communities they were from. With hopes to take home the trophy and head to Washington, D.C., for the final, dancers from Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia and other neighbouring states put both their expertise and vulnerability front and centre, displaying the true spirit of dance as art and cultural memory.
Kennedi Carter, a photographer from North Carolina by way of Texas, took the following photos at the event.
All images courtesy of Kennedi Carter