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Jonathan Steuer – Don’t kill the mood

6 min read

Meet Jonathan Steuer, who having finished his final year of high school has already forged a unique music network through his passion as a photographer and video director. He’s French with an impeccable command of English and has been producing content mostly with people from the dance world for many years. As a director, Steuer renders the city a playful canvas for his confident monolithic one-shot pieces. Pose!

When people go to your Instagram what can they expect to see?

Well for a year I’ve been working with a network of dancers, choreographers and a colour-grader. I shoot directly in the street. And I post the clips on the dedicated as Newart|@Newartinsta.

Yeah, I saw a clip you filmed there with dancer Jordan Boury, in a record store called Paris Jazz Corner and that’s how I got in touch with you. How do you get permission to film?

Many of the clips are just spontaneous and for that one with @jordan_boury we started filming outside the record store then I noticed how beautiful the interior was, and we spoke to the manager and he was totally into it. We’d already decided the music for the clip would be James Brown’s Woman and the owner was into it, saying ‘let’s do it’.

Looking at the clips the dancers don’t wear earbuds, yet their moves are totally in sync with the music.

Ah, yeah. The music is blasting at the same moment the dancer is captured. So most of the clips are a live one-shot, which I think captures the energy of the dancer. I knew that I didn’t want the dancers to be seen wearing earbuds, it would kill the mood. 

Who’s deciding on the movement/sequences?

That changes between dancer and choreographer and me as director. But together we agree on the music track and location and make it happen.

Oh, so each clip filmed in public locations around Paris and outdoors mainly, so any problematic shoots?

There’s the clip in a shopping arcade, with voguer Giselle @gg.palmer where you see a moment where I jerk the frame, and that’s to avoid someone walking dead-center into shot.

At one point during the shoot there were people ambling in between the camera and the dancer, so we took a few takes. The ornate shopping arcade where the piece was shot is near Paris’s Musée du Louvre.

The clips are quite magical and spontaneous then, so what editing if any is done?

The only post-production is in the colouring of the clips. I’m working with a talented digital colourist Raphael Jaafari @raph_jaafari. When I shoot the ratio is captured at 16:9, which is massive and for Instagram I crop the footage; that’s the only post-production I do, just cropping, and Raphael whom I started collaborating with recently does the colour-grading. Before that, I was doing the colour-grading myself.

Alongside doing Newart I see you’ve a new podcast too – Artiste 3.0, taglining it ‘the podcast interviewing the artists of tomorrow’. Where do you find the time to work on these projects?

Now that I’m finished with high school  and the exams are done, I now can dedicate the time. Before, whilst I was at school, I’d leave class at 5pm and meet up with the choreographer/dancer and we’d film throughout the early evening. During the summer that’s not a problem because it’s still light outside, but yes during winter I couldn’t film under the best natural lighting.

Then for Artiste 3.0, the podcast, I am interested in talking about the culture of the web looking particularly at artist and directors who inspire me. The 4 episodes so far are titled: subtitled, intuition, game and exchange.

Subtitled, intuition, game and exchange seem very philosophical titles; so I’m curious to know your take on music – maybe through any vinyls you might have at home?

Oh yes, as a video maker working with dancers and choreographers it’s important I have a broad landscape of appreciation of music styles. Actually I have the Prince’s Purple Rain right here, and Gershwin is in there too.

I like the Prince album though it’s not my favourite. If you were to put my favourite disc it’s likely to be Concerto Rachmaninoph 2 and 3 from Khatia Buniatichvili; it’s just the greatest album of all time.

Nice… so, you also just successfully hit the goal on a crowdfunder. Well done! Briefly tell us what it’s for and how easy it is to reach the target.

It’s called Echos and will be an exhibition and event of dance, illustration and photo portraits. The rewards for supporting include a making-of video, an art book download and prints from illustrator Anne Pomel @annepomel, Echos co-organiser plus my photo portraits.

Oh, and to build traction on the crowdfunder, in our network the dancer Tianee Archille @tiatian00 got into amplifying the Echoes kickstarter via her Stories.

Tianee was among many who helped get the word out, so a massive thanks to Tianee and all.

We had literally kickstarted the campaign just as the Coronavirus pandemic hit and realised a difficult would be a greater challenge. But we achieved our goal through constantly talking about it and sharing the message widely through allies in our network.

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-Echos- On vous parle enfin de notre projet! Comme nous vous l’avons annoncé dans notre story il y’a quelques jours, @annepomel et moi meme sommes en train de travailler depuis plusieurs semaines sur un projet d’exposition qui mêle photo,illustration et danse. Ce projet nous tient énormément à cœur et pour pouvoir le réaliser dans son intégralité, nous avons besoin d’un peu d’aide! Vous pouvez trouver toutes les infos de notre exposition sur notre page kickstarter, lien en bio. On vous tient au courant de la suite très bientôt. Bon courage à tous dans cette situation si particulière que nous sommes en train de traverser. ————————————————————————— Here’s our project, finally! As we told you in our stories last night, the past weeks @annepomel and I have been working on an Art show combining photography, illustration and dance. This project is very important to us and we need your support to be able to make it look even better! All the infos about the show and our Kickstarter are in the link in our bio. Sending love to every one of you during these strange and difficult times. . . . . . . . . . #art #illustration #draw #picture #sketchbook # #artsy #instaart #instagood #gallery #creative #photooftheday #instaartist #graphic #graphics #artoftheday #photo #photos #pic #pics #picture #pictures #instagood #picoftheday #photooftheday #all_shots #exposure #composition #focus

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Finally, back to that little detail of being in the final year of high school and the exams. How has that situation played out given the quarantine, that lockdown shut-down all schools?

For that, I’ve finished the exams, and my grades got calculated on participation over the academic year. My results averaged out ok.

It seems like school then is now very much in the background and Newart is very much your foreground endeavour.

Yes, school has always been in the background. My passion has been focused on directing but also photography and it’s been an interest of mine since I was so young, even throughout school. During the day I’d be studying math and then in the evening after school, I’d be heading off to a shoot I’d organised.

Ok, pose Jonathan. Thanks for sharing the vibes.


Check @newartinsta | www.jonathansteuer.fr where you can find links to this Jonathan Steuer’s many projects: Echoes|body/dance/art exhibition/event & Artiste 3.0|podcast.

Additionally, check the review of Paris Jazz Corner on Spotted By Locals

Note: a massive big-up to Jonathan Steuer for being our guinea-pig interviewee for this Q&A concept. If you like this and wanna know when more is coming, then please do follow on twitter and Instagram.)


A recordshop vibe