Parkour is an athletic discipline that consists of moving through a physical environment, overcoming the obstacles that appear en route in the most fluid and efficient form possible, within the sole possibilities of the human body. Parkour originated from a military obstacle course training and was developed in France during the late 1980s by David Belle. It became popular as an urban athletic practice in the late 1990s through film, documentary and later through Youtube videos which featured its practitioners. It is now considered a significant expression of urban culture.
I discovered parkour a few years ago in Moscow, Russia. I was immediately drawn to non-competitive nature of it and its open, supportive community. The curiosity, the imagination, the conquering of fear, and desire to get better at movement are the key elements of the sport. When I started shooting parkour (www.parkourproject.com) in different countries, I realized that there were very few females amongst mostly male traceurs. Were girls just naturally more fearful and less physical? Or did they succumb to social restrictions and moral policing at an earlier age? Were they uncomfortable to train alongside young males because they were ashamed not to be able to rise to the same level of physical ability and fitness? What is different about the women who practice parkour from the rest of us?
This project seeks the answers to some of these questions by focusing on parkour communities and female athletes across Russia, USA and Canada; on the women who did not lose the curiosity and desire to explore the physical world and push their personal limits. After all, parkour is not about being better than someone else, but being better than your previous self.