The 5 Biggest Mistakes Dancers Make at Photo Shoots
My first dance photo shoot was an epic fail. The photographer was professional and we had a great working relationship, but I made the rookie mistake of failing to thoroughly prepare. I didn't understand the purpose of the photos and how they should serve my career, so I ended up with images that were beautiful but that belonged on a model comp card, not in a dance portfolio.
Dancers need photos that allow viewers to get a sense of their style, abilities and professionalism, and help them gain more visibility. Yet, dance shots can be incredibly difficult to get right. Avoid these five common mistakes.
Mistake: Not researching the photographer
Explore a photographer's work before going into a shoot, suggests Andrew Eccles, award-winning photographer and longtime collaborator with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. See if they have experience working with dancers. If they don't, determine whether their work could translate into your vision. When you trust your photographer, you're more likely to be open and move freely in front of the camera.
Ailey's Linda Celeste Sims. PC Andrew Eccles
Mistake: Not preparing for the shoot
Bring ideas of images that inspire you. "Have a few poses that you think make you look good," says Quinn Wharton, photographer and former dancer. Instagram and Pinterest are great resources to search for inspiration.
Think about the angles and lines that look best on your body, and share your top choices with the photographer before you start shooting. Be wary of concepts that have already been done many times, which may make it hard for you to stand out. "Try to be as simple as possible," says dancer, choreographer and photographer Jacob Jonas. "Let the movement and structure of your body be the focus."
Mistake: Forgetting your body's needs
It's just as important to warm up for a photo shoot as it is for a performance. While the photographer should be mindful of the types of surfaces being used, it's your job to protect your body. It's perfectly acceptable to speak up for yourself in a shoot, especially if the photographer doesn't have much experience working with dancers.
Getting a great shot often requires you to repeat the same movement several times. Listen to your body: "If you've done a movement enough and would like to move on, just ask if you can try something else," says Paige Fraser, dancer with Visceral Dance Chicago.
Mistake: Going in with a closed mind
Taking photos is like any other creative process. It takes patience, flexibility and a willingness to try new things. Know that not everything you've planned will work, and the photographer may have ideas of their own.
Ailey dancers. PC Andrew Eccles, Courtesy Ailey
"Some movement may be exciting while dancing but doesn't translate to a two-dimensional photo," says Eccles. If your original ideas aren't working, use the photographer's direction to imagine new possibilities. Focus on what is working, and move forward with that.
Mistake: Not communicating post-shoot
Although you'll most likely pay a fee for your photos, the photographer still owns the rights to the images and might use them to promote their work. Review the final shots and decide which ones you're comfortable having shared. "What may be beautiful to the photographer is not always the best line or angle for a dancer," says Fraser. "Communicate with them before pictures are posted. Most photographers will respect that."
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.
Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"
At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.
Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.