Through a Dancer's Lens
Watching your peers in class, rehearsal, and performance, you tend to develop a sharp eye for dance. This sensitivity, this visual alertness, sometimes finds expression in photography. In fact, many of the photographers
Dance Magazine relies on were dancers first: Rosalie O’Connor, Erin Baiano, Matthew Murphy, Kyle Froman, and Alexander Iziliaev, to name a few. Most of them started snapping photos when they were still performing, often from the wings. So we thought we’d take a look at currently active dancers who have become entranced with the camera. We found a range of approaches, from polished studio shots to painterly images to iPhone playfulness.
“For the seated/relaxed pose, I asked the dancers to imagine themselves watching the shoot from the front and to just react naturally. It is hard to discover a personality in such a strict setting, but I was pleasantly surprised that the dancers were willing to reveal some of their inner dialogue. The inspiration for the shoot was our constant stream of inner thoughts that is instilled by every coach and director, so that we can transform into different characters.”
Aleksandar Antonijevic, National Ballet of Canada, celebrating his 20th-anniversary season
Greta Hodgkinson during a photo shoot for National Ballet of Canada’s 60th-anniversary souvenir book in 2011.
Right: Abi Stafford’s feet. Left: Tiler Peck and Cali.
“I used to always have a camera in my bag wherever I went. Once I got an iPhone and saw how good the camera was, it became easier to use that instead—and quicker to share photos with friends and family. I like the idea of sharing a moment just as it’s happening.”
Janie Taylor, New York City Ballet
Left: Rebecca Hytting and Bobbi Smith of Batsheva. Right: Chen-Wei Lee of Batsheva.
“For two decades I used a conventional 35mm camera, but I made a point of rejecting obvious opportunities to photograph dance, thinking the results were boring and unnecessary. Then, going through some old books of dance photography—notably Alexey Brodovitch’s 1945
Ballet, and Paul Himmel’s 1954 Ballet in Action—I discovered that abandoning the crystalline image in favor of blurred edges approximates the excitement of dance in performance.” —Mikhail Baryshnikov on the occasion of his photo exhibit “Dance This Way” at Gary Nader Art Centre in Miami earlier this year
“I shot this photo of myself using a self-timer, with my camera situated on a chair on my roof, in Astoria, NY.” —
Alexis Silver, independent dancer/choreographer
“The underwater shot was a series I did in a pool with dancers from SFB. The ropes were brought in for a puppet idea that didn’t work out. Once the dancers got tangled, it was a natural extension to try and escape, which is the image here. The dancer is a good friend of mine, Diego Cruz, who is from Zaragoza, Spain.” —
Quinn Wharton, San Francisco Ballet
“This is Ashley Lynn Gilfix as Ophelia, a role that we shared, in Stephen Mills’
Hamlet. I photograph when I can, but for now the dancing still takes priority.” —Anne Marie Melendez (aka Anne Marie Bloodgood), Ballet Austin
“This photo is of Patricia Delgado and Yann Trividic of Miami City Ballet in Jerome Robbins’
Afternoon of a Faun. I enjoy shooting dancers from backstage. The ‘right time’ means two things to me: one, a beautiful position, and two, the peak of the artist’s emoting.”—Leigh-Ann Esty, Miami City Ballet
Clockwise from top left: On tour in Hong Kong, Janie Taylor on the floor and Likolani Brown standing; Maria Kowroski in the mirror; Self-portrait; At home with Charleyrose.
“I never imagined before that I would experience the joy of image-making firsthand, until I got an iPhone. My love of taking pictures began simply with…my cats.” —
Wendy Whelan, New York City Ballet
“These were taken in a studio downtown last year. We just decided to get together and let me have some fun with the camera. The dancers are Sean Stewart and Lauren Post, both with ABT.” —
Renata Pavam, American Ballet Theatre