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Behind the Lens: Ayodele Casel Models for Capezio

Tapper Ayodele Casel Ayodele Casel surrounded by every Capezio K360 tap shoe she's ever worn. She's never thrown one away!

By Deborah Searle of Dance Informa.

Tap phenom Ayodele Casel recently modeled for Capezio as part of the “I Am Capezio” campaign. Ayodele is proud to wear Capezio K360 Tap Shoes across the globe as she taps up a storm performing and choreographing for stage, television and film. As an avid photographer, as well as professional dancer, Ayodele knows what it’s like to be in front and behind the camera lens. Here she gives us some insight…

Tell us about your photo shoot for the “I Am Capezio” campaign.

“It was a lot of fun! It was really nice because they had a lot of ideas coming into the shoot, so it was very organized and we knew exactly what we were going to do from one moment to the next. I liked that even though they had their ideas they were also very collaborative as well. They were very open to feedback in terms of what we were shooting. It felt good to be able to look at something and say, ‘That’s great!’ or ‘Burn that at once!’ [Laughs]”

You enjoy photography yourself. How did it feel to be the one in front of the camera?

“It feels very efficient in that I’ve shot a lot of dancers before so I already know the effective way to get the shot. I know what works and what doesn’t already – what position looks best, etc. That’s especially true with tap dance photos. I have found it very challenging to shoot tap dancers because the way we move is so intricate and can be very internal. It can be really difficult to capture that feeling, as far as a visual is concerned. Back in the day, when I was less experienced, I would end up doing poses that didn’t necessarily reflect anything having to do with tap dancing. So now the older I get and the longer I’ve been A) shooting dancers and B) being the one being photographed, I can kind of go, ‘Okay, this is a step I can do that I know is dynamic enough to represent tap dance and be visually appealing.”

“I was very, very grateful because Capezio were very open to sharing what they were shooting with me. Sometimes photographers just shoot you and you have to hope they select something that is good, but the Capezio team were open and would ask, ‘Do you like that? Is that good?’, which was comforting.”

What’s your favorite thing about being in a photo shoot?

“I think I like it best when all the elements are lined up properly – like feeling like you look good, having on the right clothing and makeup, trusting and knowing that the photographer has a vision – it’s fun. I also love that moment when you see the final product, because the thing about dance photography is you’re often catching something that really only happened for 1/500th of a second. It’s always exciting to see if we got it.”

What did you wear for the campaign? Was it your K360s?

“Yeah! I wore my lovely K360s! And we actually used a bunch of my old K360s from the nineties till now too. I had a suitcase filled with them that I brought. I have never thrown a pair away. It was fun to use them and to develop that concept, and it was fun to see those shoes because some of them had been in that bag for years. It was nostalgic to take them out and go ‘Oh my! I remember those! I remember these were my first pair, and these I had to patch up, and I lost a tap on this one, etc.’ So it was kind of cool to go down memory lane as we took them out of the bag.”

So Capezio K360s tap shoes must mean a lot to you then?!

“They do! I love them! I haven’t found a flat Oxford shoe that I feel the same way about in terms of quality and even the look. I just really like that it’s clean and that you can customize it if you want something different. It used to be that black was the only color. I enjoy that they’ve made it more accessible to people who want to be more creative with their outfits. For me, it’s the first shoe that represented me really delving seriously into the art form. So I have an emotional connection to it as well.”

Have you modeled for Capezio before?

“I actually have. It was a really long time ago for their catalog. I was wearing something crazy like jeans and a baseball shirt. I believe Lois Greenfield was the photographer at the time.”

Why do you choose to model for Capezio?

“Because for the K360s, it’s a product that I can 100% stand behind. I feel 100% comfortable putting my image on a product that I used religiously. I just believe in it! Anytime someone asks me about my shoes, I always say, ‘K360s. If you’re ready to try them out, they’re the best ones!’”

Where can people next see you perform in your Capezio K360s?

“I just finished a tour with Savion Glover on the show called STePz. We just did that at The Joyce Theater and we toured that in the fall and early part of the winter. But now I’m working on a little something that might be showing by the end of the year, hopefully in New York. I’m getting together with a few people to choreograph and work on that. I also teach for L.A. Dance Magic. I always have my shoes on there! Anytime I teach, you’ll see me with those shoes on. And anytime I dance, casually or professionally in performance, I have them with me.”