While in Russia three years ago, photographer Anya Chibis started her ongoing series Jump Girl, an exploration of women in parkour. While parkour is classified as an extreme sport, it is also a training discipline focused on obstacle passing originating from military training. Due to the complex and sometimes dangerous environments in which these activities take place, it is mostly a male dominated sport. The lack of female presence was what interested Anya and it became her mission to find female traceuses (the proper term for a female parkour practitioner) all over the world.
To find her subjects, Anya traveled far and wide, hitting major cities like Los Angeles, Toronto, San Francisco, Portland, and Vancouver to name a few. She covered a considerable amount of ground given the scarcity of women within the sport. Instead of focusing solely on dynamic action shots, Anya has made it a point to highlight the community. Throughout the course of the three year project, she has seen many positive changes within the community. Anya attended an international parkour competition at the Apex Movement Parkour Gym in Denver, Colorado, and witnessed equal pay in prizes for a female traceuse to a male traceur— an achievement that has been long awaited.
Anya exhibited her project in Toronto and received wonderful feedback from not only the public, but more importantly the parkour community. The women in her project shared the images on their social media outlets, creating quite a buzz across the parkour world about the work.
Jump Girl opened Anya up to a new community, giving her a second family of sorts and making parkour just as important a part of her life as it is to the practitioners. The project itself started to bring her more sport-related work as well, a secondary benefit she happily has accepted. Anya now works with ivivva, an athletic clothing brand for young girls ages 8-14, where she gets to shoot real girls who are serious athletes. This client work ties directly into what Anya does in her personal work, specifically in Jump Girl, which is to transcend the cultural limits and stereotypes we unwittingly come to accept.