Hailing from Shenzhen, China, Leon Liu, a junior Interactive Media Arts major at the Tisch School of the Arts, calls himself a minimalist visual artist. “The word ‘minimalist’ usually confuses people, because they think it means you only possess a few things,” he says. “What it actually means is that, as an artist, you know what is important to focus on.” He showcases this approach in a project that focuses on urban ballet photography.

Dancer posing with the Brooklyn Bridge behind her.
Dancer leaps in the air in the middle of a cobblestone street in Brooklyn.

The project, shown here in a series of images, is titled City Dancer. Leon says, “I used a minimalist approach to guide my audience to focus on a certain part of my art. In some photos, I turned the background black and white and blurred it. But I kept the main subject in color and in focus. This helps the audience not be distracted. I kept the photo of the dancer in the subway in color. In that photo, the colors add context to the composition; they’re not a distraction.”

Dancer posing while subway car speeds past her.
Dancing holding bars while peeking out of one eye above her arm.

Leon’s ultimate goal is to be a filmmaker. He chose to shoot the urban ballet photography because he was “attracted to the body movements in contrast to the city environment.” And Leon plans to continue to use photography as he pursues his filmmaking aspirations. “Photography teaches you a lot about composition and framing,” he says. “It’s easier for people with a photography background to make the leap into film, so I plan on making photography a lifelong habit.”

The photographer Leon Liu on location at Bear Mountain State Park.
Leon Liu on location at Bear Mountain State Park.

You can see more of Leon’s photographic and film work at leonliu.works.