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Who are your favorite photographers of dance?

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Occasionally an image will give the feeling of movement, not a movement frozen... or a frozen movement will capture the perfection and line of a step, a jump in a manner that you can't savor because it happens so quickly. Dancers doing jumps often seem more dramatic captured in mid air for example. These images can capture the exhilaration so effectively.

Then there are images if ballet with the corps creating one huge "flower" or form, like calligraphy or classical architectural elements frozen as a form not part of a movement.

Goethe called architecture frozen music. I'd call ballet liquid architecture.

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Thanks, Martin, these are very beautiful photos indeed. Some of them a little bit like Arpege Chabert's work, who is not, strictly speaking, a ballet photographer, but has included some POB etoiles in a recent show here. I hadn't known about the Lithuanan Ballet, and am wondering if all three Baltic nations have flourishing companies.

I see you are our newest member. Welcome. :)

Sadly, I do not know the photographer you have mentioned. I have posted a link to Mikhail's site after reading the post by SanderO, saying "I am wondering if anyone has seen an exhibit of art quality photographs where the subject matter was ballet but the work was not done for documentation or marketing but simply as the subject for the photographs?"

This was precisely what Mikhail was up to. Aside from taking great, uhm, "documentary" shots of both classical ballet and modern dance (his duty as a theatre photographer), he also took numerous art photographs of dancers. He was greatly interested in capturing and interpreting movement and despite the comfort and ease of digital photography, nearly all of his artistic photos (as well as some of the 'documentary' ones) were taken on film and hand-printed afterwards.

Speaking of the ballet in the Baltic States - I would say the Lithuanian company has the greatest potential. The listing of principals can be found here http://www.opera.lt/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabID=461

Egle Spokaite is perhaps best known to international audiences, however, her appearances are becoming a rare treat, either due to health issues or because of some other reasons. It's sad, because she was and still is an extraordinary dancer and artist. There are other strong dancers, but I believe their time is yet to come.

Recently, a book was published titled "A Concise History of Lithuanian Ballet". It is really well written and abounds with photographs, many of them taken by Mikhail Rashkovskiy. I believe it is possible to order the book, should anyone be interested. http://www.humanitas.lt/EN/EN/Baltic-books...thuanian-Ballet

Yes, I'm new on this board. hope to spend some time here:)

liquid architecture... I like it:)

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My favorite ballet photographer is Oliver Endahl.

I'm a dancer myself and have done a few shoots with him for his ongoing "Ballet Zaida" photo series.

His Zaida series consists mainly of outdoor ballet photos and photography studio shots, but he has done stage photography and ballet studio photography as well.

He use to dance himself so he knows what makes a good line and what makes a bad line, which to a dancer like myself is one of the most important aspects of ballet photography.

I think dance is about more than just the movement. It's about the feelings that are emitted during the movement. I think that Oliver is great because he is able to capture these feelings in his photography. I think his photos are more than just dancers hitting poses, I think they capture the essence of ballet that we all love so much.

His Ballet Zaida series can be found here

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I remember seeing an exhibition of photographs by Gordon Anthony (brother of Dame Ninette de Valois) called Shadowplay that was absolutely stunning. He made great use of lighting effects and shadows. There was one particular photograph I remember of Margot Fonteyn as Firebird that was an absolute masterpiece.

I also admire the work of Bill Cooper and Antony Crickmay and more recently Tim Cross and Phil Hitchman.

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I love the work of the late Martha Swope and her uncanny talent for catching the movement of dancers. Also Marc Haegeman's photos -- he's so wonderful.

My favorite photo of all is of E. Maximova in mid jete in Walpurgis Night. It was on sale at the Met Opera gift shop years ago and regret I didn't buy it.

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Has anyone else run into the images of Nikolai Krusser? I find some of his work to be quite outstanding: a wonderful sense for movement, color, and composition. There's a quality of mystery to many of his images that I love. And I like his frequent use of the overhead shot, such as:


Here's his portfolio page:


[Edit] And a few others:





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Thanks for introducing me to Kreisser, Pheranc. I especially like that overhead shot. frankly opulent.

That photo has a real Degas feel -- not just a superficial similarity. I mean the use of perspective -- composition: the way details (amazing) details merge into the larger composition -- muted, subtle color palate.

How does he get all those details and also give a first impression of something almost impressionistic in its subtlety? (As in the fantastic blue-green dress of the ballroom dancer, 2 photos on). Wow!

There are so many excellent photographers of dance, especially in these high-tech, digital days. This guy is one of the rare ones who strike me as a true artist. Thanks, pherank.

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There are so many excellent photographers of dance, especially in these high-tech, digital days. This guy is one of the rare ones who strike me as a true artist. Thanks, pherank.

You are welcome - I too love his 'painterly', Degas quality, and the 'moodiness' of some of the shots. I can tell that he alters some of the photos in various ways, but it looks to be more of the old-fashioned by-hand manipulation than the Photoshop variety. One thing that becomes obvious in this photo (http://www.photodom.com/photo/2109538) is the tremendous amount of work put into the design and creation of the tutus - much of which is simply lost on audience members sitting in the middle of an auditorium. The art of costume-making is still alive.

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I love seeing photos by former dancers who've then made a career out of photography, like Rosalie O'Connor and Angela Sterling.

Helgi Tomasson's son, Erik, who didn't dance as far as I know, has done some lovely work for San Francisco Ballet.

Edited to add: I found this interview with Tomasson, who said he didn't have dance training:


C: Ballet has its own choreographic language. Do you use this to direct the dancers for a specific action you wish to shoot?

ET: I have never directed a dancer to do a specific action. Everything I shoot is totally in the moment. I try to respect their work and stay out of the way as much as possible. I have never liked images of dancers when they are set up or even in a studio. To me, the emotion is lost when dancers are shot in a studio and posed and it just feels too contrived for me. Its kind of the same to me as if someone told David Beckham to pose shooting a goal in studio. He may be able to recreate how he would shoot a goal, but the energy of the game would be lost. It's the same with dancers. There is an energy there that I'm trying to capture that can only be caught when they are in their environment.

He also worked in video and film in commercials. Which brings me to video/film: former dancer Ulrik Wivel became a film director.

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I love seeing photos by former dancers who've then made a career out of photography, like Rosalie O'Connor and Angela Sterling.

Helgi Tomasson's son, Erik, who didn't dance as far as I know, has done some lovely work for San Francisco Ballet.

I am reminded also of the (now former) SF Ballet dancer Quinn Wharton, who has been doing photography/film work (such as the Tiit Helimets and Co. Estonia Tour 2011). Wharton's dance friends (such as Sarah Van Patten) appear in many of his still photos.



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This is a link to the G.B.L Wilson archive gallery at the Royal Academy of Dance http://www.arenapal.com/files/newsletter/Newsletter_34_October/G_B_L_Wilson_Photographic_Archive.htm

"It was Wilson's interest in photography and his friendships with dancers that have led to the existence of this rich photographic ballet archive. A keen photographer since childhood, Wilson began photographing ballet in 1941. His enthusiasm and his ability to build lasting friendships gave him access to dancers not only in performance situations but also off-stage, in rehearsals and at social functions. Once the Second World War was over, Wilson's photographs began to appear in publications such as The Ballet Annual and Ballet Today and in 1957 he began his regular 'Off-Stage' column in the Dancing Times which continued until his death in 1984."

I remember GBL well from when I was a ballet student. He had so many contacts with European companies that he became careers adviser to students graduating from the Royal Ballet School, but unfortunately for me this was after I had left the school and had to audition without any advice. :( I also remember a visit he made to Israel as he had helped bring some English dancers to join the Israel Ballet company. I was teaching then for the company and school and invited him and the girls to supper at my home - we had a wonderful evening. It must have been in the late '70s. His photographs are beautiful and insightful and offer an invaluable historical record of the mid 20th century ballet world in Britain. He also published A Dictionary of Ballet (1974), which was pretty comprehensive for the time.

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