Lonely Planet Writer

US photographer captures these Chilean dancers on the streets of Santiago

New York-based photographer Omar Z Robles recently took to the streets of Santiago in Chile to capture an incredibly striking series of shots. Using the city’s streets as a colourful backdrop, he photographed a number of local dancers, mid-performance.  

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Dance is something that’s always interested Omar, since he has a very interesting background in performance arts. “I have been doing photography for about ten years now”, he tells Lonely Planet. “However, before becoming a photographer, I performed professionally as a mime, and trained under the tutelage of Marcel Marceau. This dance series has been a way of me to reconnect to my performance art roots.” He was able to use those mime learnings to steer the shoot. “I directed the dancers to tell stories with their bodies, as I had learned from Marceau”.

What was it about Chile that inspired this new project? “I think more than the sites”, he says, “it was the dancers who really motivated me, and pushed the series forward. Every single one of the local dancers gave 110% while collaborating.”

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Omar often sees photography as a defiant medium, especially in countries that have experienced political oppression. “In the historical case of Chile for example”, he explains, “photographers went against all odds to denounce the injustices of the system they were living at the time of the dictatorship. Today, photography can play a very similar role, specially because with social media we can bring attention to issues in a more immediate way. Whether it is art or activism, photography gives us a real voice.”

A post shared by Omar Z. Robles (@omarzrobles) on

How have the people of Santiago reacted to his street photography? “There have been nothing but positive and encouraging reactions. People were really happy to see something completely out of the ordinary. I also received great support from the Fujifilm photography community, as I was traveling to teach a workshop for the brand.”