Martha Swope, Beloved Dance Photographer, Dies at 88

January 12, 2017

Martha Swope, the celebrated photographer of dance and theater and frequent contributor to Dance Magazine‘s pages, passed away yesterday at the age of 88.

Swope’s images, spanning from the 1950s to the 1990s, provide a lively record of dance and Broadway history. A School of American Ballet student-turned-photographer, Swope captured countless images of dance greats from Balanchine to Martha Graham, and was the most prolific Broadway photographer of her time.

Looking at Swope’s photos, it’s clear that she was a dancer herself. Perhaps that’s why her work resonates with us so much—her eye for line and technique captured dancers at their best, and her photojournalist’s instinct preserved the emotion of each moment, onstage and off. Her photographs make dance history feel alive.

These are some of the most memorable images Swope contributed to our pages throughout the years:

From our December 1999 issue. Top right: Swope’s photo of Balanchine and Suzanne Farrell in his Don Quixote.

From our December 1999 issue. John Prinz and Natalia Makarova in Anthony Tudor’s Lilac Garden.

From our February 2001 issue. All images by Swope.

From our August 2010 issue. Natalia Makarova, Jerome Robbins and Mikhail Baryshnikov rehearsing Robbins’ Other Dances.

From our November 2016 issue. George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins rehearse Edward Villella in Pulcinella in 1972.

Read more on Swope’s life in this beautiful tribute written by Dance Magazine‘s “On Broadway” columnist, Sylviane Gold. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.