Ballet Photography: Art Frozen in Time

Ballet is more than dancing. It’s the art of creating a choreographic image through hypnotizing movement. The world of ballet is shrouded in an aura of mystery and exclusivity, which is why we, average Joes and Janes, want to be part of it even for a moment. Ballet photography is sort of a keyhole, it lets us peep at this delightful fusion of strength, grace, and beauty.

The ballet theme is like a white whale for photographers. Some get backstage to see the other side of a performance, others meet ballerinas in mirrored ballet studios. Yours truly also had to use some tricks to watch ballerinas in their natural environment. I contacted a local ballet school to find volunteers willing to help me freeze their art in time. Luckily, I met an enthusiastic response and eagerness to demonstrate what a ballerina’s body is capable of.

ballet photography

Looking back, I can confidently say that it was a delightful experience for both me and my talented models. As an amused spectator, I mentally applauded every pirouette and split leap. As top-class professionals, the girls couldn’t miss their chance to show the beauty and challenge of their everyday work.

Multifaceted World of Ballet

I find it hard to give a definition of what ballet is. It is, of course, the art of motion and statics that tell mesmerizing stories. On the other hand, it is a sport that requires years of practice. Ballet is sweat, bruises, and tears, but this side is hidden from the prying eyes. Overcoming pain and fatigue, ballerinas flutter across the stage to give us their radiant smiles. And only a few of us realizes what titanic work it is to be a dancer.

Ballet has the other, no less charming side. Classical and modern ballet created a huge number of iconic images – Carmen, Juliet, Odette, and many others. All these characters living in different eras and places have one thing in common – a statement fashion style. Indeed, make-up and costumes are a vital component of performance. You probably didn’t know it but everyday fashion borrowed so many things from a dancer’s wardrobe. Shrugs, tutu skirts, bodysuits, and other pieces can be found in closets around the world.

So what is ballet for me? It’s a little bit of everything. Truly, I am fascinated with these perfect bodies violating the laws of gravity. I admire the outfits they rock and their expressive power. Thanks to the delight and multifaceted nature of dance, ballet photography hold a special place in my heart.

Triumph of the Human Body

All dancers, and especially ballerinas, are ideal models for photography. They can control their bodies like no one else can do. Even such a simple thing as a walk, when it is performed by a ballerina, becomes a marvel to behold. Their every movement oozes the elegance and dignity that draw glances like a magnet. And the things they can do to their bodies, they are simply incredible! Stretching a leg over the head, bending in half, leaping in a split … it’s a dream for most of us but it’s a fruit of everyday labor for these superhumans.

The pursuit of their movement is a challenge and reward for every photographer. The peerless Maya Plisetskaya once said that capturing a ballerina’s flight is the most difficult thing. I totally agree. The flight of a ballerina through the air lasts a heartbeat. A split second and this beautiful moment is lost forever. But the lens of my camera notices everything. Click, click, click, and a tutu-clad fairy is captured in the air. Yay!

Ballet Is Emotions

Being a ballerina isn’t just about being supple. Without passion and the ability to express emotions through movement, ballet would turn into gymnastics. Fortunately, ballet is an amalgamation of theater and dance. A ballerina conveys a huge spectrum of emotions as she lives the life of her character. However, her expressive arsenal is limited. All she has is her body, her only tool of the trade. But that’s enough to keep you on your toes.

When she is happy, her movements are smooth and bristling with energy. She has rising motions and swift arcs to express anger. In a moment of fear, her movements become sharp and abrupt. Give her sadness and she’ll carry the grief of the whole world on her shoulders. Even a fleeting moment captured in a photograph can tell you everything she feels. You, as a viewer, cannot help but pass these emotions through yourself. Ballet photography really touches the strings of our souls, and this is its innate superpower.

One day I will get my own photography exhibition, and ballerina photos will take pride of place in it. They delight, fascinate, inspire … The only thing they don’t do is don’t leave you cold. Evoking emotion is the ultimate goal of photography. When you’re lucky to have such gorgeous subjects, this mission is successfully accomplished.

Ballet is an amazing thing. You can never get enough of it. It owes its pulling power to great composers, talented choreographers, stunning outfits, but the biggest praise should go to ballet dancers. They delight us with their liquid movements, extensive bodily vocabulary, their irresistible energy … This energy goes right through us when we just look at ballet photography. Imagine what you would feel in the auditorium. I am not a magician and I cannot teleport you to a ballet performance. But it is in my power to share some spellbinding photos of talented and charming dancers.

Want to be a prima ballerina of your own photo session? It’s easy, just give me a call at 650-218-2417! Let’s create masterpieces at the junction of two wonderful arts, photography, and dance.

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