Jack Mitchell (1925–2013)

November 19, 2013

Two weeks ago, Dance Magazine lost a longtime friend, collaborator, editorial and artistic advisor and, perhaps most of all, prolific photographer. Pick up a copy of Dance Magazine pre-1996, and there’s a good chance Jack Mitchell’s work is not only within the issue, but on the cover. He shot more than 160 cover images for our publication, and had been a contributing photographer since 1952. In January of 1996, Mitchell was even the cover subject—he had announced his retirement a few months before, and Clive Barnes paid tribute to his long list of photographic triumphs. And though he may have retired, Mitchell remained close to Dance Magazine: He received a 2002 Dance Magazine Award, and he and was listed on our masthead until his death.

A self portrait
Courtesy the Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts


Mitchell was born in Florida in 1925, received his first camera at 13, and was an army photographer in World War II. He first photographed dance in 1949 when Ted Shawn invited him to Jacob’s Pillow, and it seems that sealed his love of dance. He was the official photographer of American Ballet Theatre and chronicled Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. His work has also appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, People, Vogue and TIME; his portraits included John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Meryl Streep, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. Today, the Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts is home to some of Mitchell’s most iconic work, and they have graciously given permission for some of Mitchell’s works to be re-printed in an upcoming Dance Magazine issue. —Jenny Dalzell



Dance Magazine’s January 1996 cover, with Mitchell’s iconic Merce Cunningham studio shot from 1975.


While it was hard to choose just a few, here are some other favorite Jack Mitchell covers:


Erik Bruhn with Rudolf Nureyev, May 1967


American Ballet Theatre’s John Kriza and Ruth Ann Koesun with Eugene Loring (far right) at the White House.


Cynthia Gregory
, December 1976.


A newly named NYCB co-ballet master in chief, Peter Martins in February 1984.


Arnie Zane and Bill T. Jones in front of a backdrop by Keith Haring in October 1984.