CULTURE & ARTS
01/29/2016 10:48 am ET

The Unspoken Beauty Of Dancers With Tattoos

"I’ve always been fascinated with the dancer who chooses to tattoo his or her body."
Travis Magee

Before photographer Travis Magee devoted himself to his camera, he toured the world as a modern dancer. He hasn't been able to shake his fascination with dancers' physiques -- particularly those that have been inked up -- since. 

"The dancers' bodies are their canvas and very often they must perform with minimal clothing," Magee explained to The Huffington Post. "I’ve always been fascinated with the dancer who chooses to tattoo his or her body. It is unique, daring, and the first thing that the audience will notice when they first step out onstage." 

Travis Magee

Magee's obsession soon became an inspiration, as the artist set out to combine his interests in body ink, movement and photography in one epic photo series. The resulting images feature partially nude bodies entwined beyond recognition, with colorful tattoos seeming to pass from one body to another. 

Magee had not met any of his subjects prior to shooting, nor had they met each other, and trust was a crucial factor in the images' success.

"It was important to me that the tattoos appeared to flow seamlessly together," Magee added. "I wanted the images of their flowers and vines to connect with one another. This way the dancers were not only connected through their partnering and movement, but also through the designs on their bodies."

Travis Magee

Of course, many dancers choose not to have tattoos, particularly those who practice classical ballet. "In classical ballet it is all about the line," Rafael Bonachela, director of the Sydney Dance Company, explained to The Australian. "You probably can't even have a suntan, and if you're supposed to be a swan you can't have a great tattoo across your chest."

However, as tattoos become less and less taboo outside of the dance world, more and more dancers, from the Bangarra Dance Theatre to ballet icons like Sergei Polunin, are choosing to adorn their body with art that is as expressive as choreography. 

If you'd like to see Polunin's tattoos in action, check out his performance for Hozier's video "Take Me to Church," and prepare to be floored. For more on Magee, check out his portfolio.

Travis Magee
Travis Magee

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