How to photograph ballet dancers

Dance Photography (How to Shoot Beautiful Dance Portraits)

By Taya Ivanova

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Dance photography is a fascinating genre that can turn even the simplest movements into art.
Here are 14 tips to help you easily capture the beauty of any dancing style.

14. Get to Know the Dancer(s)

Dancing is often very expressive and intimate. This is why it’s important for you and your model to feel comfortable together.

One of the best ways to understand someone is to talk to them about their passion.
Instead of blindly going into a photoshoot, find out who your model is and why they love dancing. Let them know why you’re interested in dance photography, too.
Once you get to know each other, you’ll feel more relaxed and confident during your session.
This will allow you to make mistakes without feeling embarrassed. And it will give you enough room to experiment with different concepts.

13. Familiarise Yourself With the Dance Style

What type of dance are you going to photograph? If you answer this question in detail before your photo shoot, you’ll be able to predict your model’s movements and adjust your camera settings accordingly.
For example, if you want to get better at dance recital photography, you might want to use a wide-angle lens to take wider photos. If you want to take interesting close-ups while your model is dancing, you might need a zoom lens.
If you’ve never photographed a specific dance style before, watch a few videos or talk to the dance company before your shoot.
The more you know, the easier it will be for you to come up with cool ideas. These will not only impress your models but also put a spotlight on your skills.

12. Make Sure Your Models Know They’re Being Photographed

No, this doesn’t mean you have to shout at them as you quickly press the shutter. They just have to know that someone is going to take pictures of them as they dance.
Dance photography is quite similar to street photography when it comes to permission. If you’re going to photograph a group of strangers, you’ll have to get their permission first.
This will be easy to achieve if you work with a dance instructor who can inform the dancers about your presence. It won’t be as easy if you stumble upon a random group of dancers outdoors.
If you just want to practice, you can freely photograph strangers. But you have to be careful when it comes to online sharing and selling.
To avoid unwanted confrontation, get to know a few basic street photography laws.

11. Use a Tripod to Avoid Camera Shake

You might be tempted to move your camera around all the time to get the perfect shot of a dancer’s graceful movements. This might confuse or frustrate you, especially during a fast-paced dance event.
To avoid unnecessary stress and camera shake, use a tripod. By limiting your movements, you’ll be able to make the most of the compositions in front of you.
A tripod will also help you take beautiful long exposure photos (you’ll find out more about this topic soon) that will fill your gallery with diversity and surrealism.

10. But Don’t Take Photos from One Angle All the Time

One of the best things about dance photography is that it doesn’t have to be photographed a specific way. If the situation allows, take photos from the ground. This will create a blurred foreground and naturally lead viewers’ eyes to your dancer.

If you constantly shoot from a standing or sitting point of view, your photos will look dull. You can easily change this by shooting from different angles.
If you want to make your photos stand out even more, create depth using foregrounds. For example, if you photograph a dancer through a fence, you’ll add both texture and depth to your photo.
Don’t be afraid of experimenting with different objects and foregrounds. The more you practice, the more interesting your compositions will look.

9. Shoot on a Real Stage

Stage lights are perfect for taking atmospheric dance photos.

If your model spends a lot of time on a stage, take photos there!
A stage already has all the equipment you need to photograph professional dancers. The black background will put the focus on your dancer and the natural or artificial light will create a photo-worthy atmosphere.
All you’ll need to do is focus on your dancer and your camera settings.
In addition to providing you with tools, a stage will make your model feel at home. This will enable them to feel more confident and powerful in front of your camera.

8. Use Long Exposure to Elegantly Track Movements

In some photography genres, sharpness is a priority. When it comes to good dance photographs, this isn’t always the case.
Long exposure is often used in landscape photography to emphasise certain movements, like running water or a windswept tree.
Dance photographers can use it in a similar way to photograph body movements. This is why it’s worth memorising the various guidelines of long exposure.

7. Use Dramatic Lighting

Dancers don’t always have to be photographed outdoors or on a stage. You can use simple locations with dramatic lighting to take unique photos of your models.
An empty white room with window blinds on a sunny day, a roof during the golden hour, and a dance studio with artificial light. These can all be used to create dramatic compositions that emphasise the dancer’s movements.

6. Take Photos at Dancing Events

Not sure what kind of dancers you want to photograph? You can introduce yourself to different dance styles by taking photos at events or recitals.
Once you get permission to photograph the dancers, you can significantly improve your knowledge of dance, portrait, and even candid photography.
Even a couple of hours at a recital will expose you to different styles, movements, and lighting situations. Use this opportunity to experiment with different angles, fast shutter speeds, and apertures.
All of this exposure will give you a better idea of the type of dance photography you should pursue. It will also teach you how to make the most of a busy setting.

5. Use a Large Aperture to Separate the Dancer from the Background

The photographer used a large aperture to separate the ballerina from the busy city background. If the aperture were smaller, the model’s outfit, pose, and expression wouldn’t stand out.

Dancers aren’t always surrounded by beautiful backgrounds. Sometimes, they’re surrounded by curious strangers, unflattering buildings, or a street full of cars.
All of these distractions can make it difficult to focus solely on one subject. Photography projects showcasing ballet dancers in urban settings are popular still.
If you can’t move to another location, you can separate your subject from their background by using a large aperture. A large aperture, also known as a small f-number, will add more depth to your photos. Examples of a large aperture are f/1.2 and f/2.8.
The larger your aperture, the blurrier your background will be. However, this might stop you from taking sharp photos.
If your aperture is too small, you might find it difficult to focus on specific parts of your model’s face. A relatively large aperture, such as f/2.0, will blur your backgrounds but also let you take sharp photos.

4. Focus on Details to Tell a Story

Diptychs can be used to create contrast, emphasise details, or simply tell a meaningful story.

Details are just as important as the big picture in any photography genre. Even though wide shots are what make dance photography beautiful, they need to have a story to be meaningful.
Details can add depth, texture, and emotion to your photos. You can use them to create diptychs, which are collages that consist of two photos.
You can also include them in a set of photos inspired by the dancer(s) you’re working with.

3. Take Photos in Vibrant Places

A carousel isn’t usually associated with dance. But it was the perfect location choice for this vibrant photograph. If you want to take unique photos, be open to finding potential in unusual places.

Overly vibrant locations can take the spotlight away from your subject. However, if used correctly, they can dramatically enhance your compositions.
No matter what location you shoot in, make sure you use a large aperture to separate the dancer from their background.
The larger your aperture, the larger the background bokeh will be. This will make it easy for you to blur out almost any background distraction.
With the right amount of blur, you’ll be able to photograph your dancer in front of fantastic locations like carousels, cityscapes, and neon lights.

2. Photograph Multiple Dancers from Above

If you have to photograph multiple dancers, you can create symmetrical compositions by taking photos from above.
This is easiest to do in a dance theatre or any location with an indoor balcony.
This unique perspective will allow you to play around with different concepts and outfits, like the rainbow umbrellas in the photo above.

1. Take Surreal Photos of Dancers With Flour

Flour dance photography is a sub-genre that involves a lot of messiness and surrealism. You’ll need the following things to have a successful flour photo shoot:

  • A black backdrop to highlight the whiteness of the flour,
  • Lots of flour,
  • Any kind of material to protect objects that shouldn’t be covered in flour,
  • A fan or large window to prevent suffocation,
  • A mop to clean everything up at the end of your photo shoot,
  • A clean set of clothes for you and your model.

If you need some ideas or inspiration, check out Derrick Senior’s flour portraits.


Dancing is freeing, vibrant, and eye-opening. You can use it to take photos that are just as emotional as your models.
With the right amount of practice, you’ll be able to photograph all kinds of dance styles, capture true joy, and take your photography skills to the next level.
If you’re looking for ideas to get started with dance photography, try a ballerina project.
Or call up your local dance company to see if they’re interested in some great dance photos. It’ll be good practise for you even if it’s unpaid!

Tips & Tricks For Getting Started With Ballet Photography

Photography, in general, is a tough area to get into. Part of the problem with trying to become a photographer is that, nowadays, everyone is one.

All phones come equipped with cameras which increasingly look like professional level, and all it takes is someone to take a few nice-looking photos for them to start considering themselves a photographer. Interestingly, this problem is somewhat lessened by focusing specifically on ballet/dance photography, or other more niche areas.

The layman wouldn’t be able to show up to a studio and take shots of dancing that anyone would recognize as professional, whereas they might be able to when photographing a flower, for example. The downside to this is that, if you are interested in ballet photography, there’s a lot to learn. So, let’s get started with a few tips for beginners.

Get Your Equipment Right

At the high-end of photography, you can watch tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars gurgle away on gear. But, for now, that’s wholly unnecessary and, for a very affordable price, you will be able to get some stunning shots to make you and/or your clients very happy. The areas to focus on in terms of picking your camera are the areas that most strongly correlate with the act of dance itself. This means, for starters, you’ll want a DSLR. Photographing dance on a manual film camera is a whole other story.

The DSLR you’ll want to get will have excellent abilities with low light, meaning that it can shoot clear images at high ISO settings. Couple that with what is called a fast lens, meaning an f-stop of 2.8 or lower, and some good zooming abilities and you should have an excellent device for capturing live shows.

Make sure that your lens has capable autofocus, since manually focusing dance photos can be a huge pain, nearly impossible in some situations. And, finally, focus on your shutter speeds. You need high shutter speeds to be able to capture dance since it’s all movement. You want it as low as you can get away with, but 1/250 is a good starting point, so it’s going to be high no matter what.

Know The Show

This is one which is under-appreciated by a lot of photographers. Photographing dancing when you’re unfamiliar with the show and the movements of the dancers could still lead to some good photos, but it also could cause you to miss out on a critical moment that you’ll kick yourself for after the fact. If you watch the rehearsal and even photograph it a bit, you’ll have reference points, and it’ll ensure that you don’t swap your lenses during a crucial bit of dance. Your clients will undoubtedly thank you.

Make sure that you spend some time with the dancers, talk to them because they often know what dance moves look the best in terms of drama on the scene or the movement of the costumes.

They might not know this, but they can tell you about some important moments in the play, which can help you focus more during that time. It also helps if you watch some of the rehearsals and also, some of the videos of the play that they did in the past. That way, you can also incorporate the understanding of the costume and scenery.

Capturing Movement

One of the most vital elements of ballet photography, which is distinct to it as a sub-genre of ballet as a whole, is the need to capture movement. Capturing movement isn’t so much a technical issue, though of course equipment and technical prowess come into it, but more of a spiritual, artistic issue.

Ballet and photography are antithetical to one another, ballet is all about movement and physical expression, photography is all about capturing a single moment. And yet a good ballet photographer will, in capturing a single moment, evoke a thousand. Capturing the graceful movement of ballet could involve several different techniques.

Photography tricks like double exposure, or even stabilizing your camera and dropping the shutter speed to capture the blur of movement, are effective ways to join in on the artistry of ballet. But, given how specific ballet is as an art form, you will want to check before using these methods.

The other most popular technique is about taking photos which imply movement, capturing poses which, if held in real life, would require there to have been or for there to be movement following.


Hopefully, with a few of these tips, you will find yourself with a good start in ballet photography. Ballet is a controlled art form much like photography, so, if you are well-prepared and kitted out, you should be able to find clever ways to join into the artistry with your photography.

Daryan Volkova spoke about the specifics of ballet photography



Darian Volkova spoke about the specifics of ballet photography

On December 7 at the Pixel24 photo studio, Moscow, Sony Alpha professional Darian Volkova held a master class on ballet photography. The specialization is quite narrow, and many readers probably believe that the topic can attract the attention of only a few photographers. In fact, Daryan Volkova's performance was so captivating that everyone listened with bated breath. And the hall was full. Many questions were asked.

One listener even entered into a controversy, trying to prove that "a photographer, as an artist, has the right to photograph ballerinas the way he sees, in other words, the way he wants." To which Darian Volkova quite stubbornly and at the same time correctly proved the opposite to him. At the end of the discussion, other listeners began to help her. In the end, everyone understood that ballerinas should be photographed only in accordance with the ideology of ballet and, accordingly, the established rules.

She began her speech by quoting a letter from a ballerina who had decided to refuse any invitations from photographers. What is the reason for such a categorical decision? As it turned out, the results that photographers get from the results of the shooting, where she acts as a model, do not at all correspond to her ideas about ballet. In other words, the shooting reflects the same vision of the "photographer as an artist" (see above). And this, as practice shows, is not ballet.

Daryan Volkova advises photographers to “think like a ballerina”.

That's why Daryan Volkova advises photographers to "think like a ballerina". “You can’t come into the studio and work only as a photographer.” In addition, you need to carefully prepare for the shooting, study ballet photographs and come up with ready-made ideas. You can (and should!) even bring photos with those poses that you plan to shoot.

You can't put a mirror in the studio, otherwise the ballerina will work with the mirror and not with the photographer. Do not shoot jump shots on a concrete floor. In general, this is a separate issue. It is important to remember that if the ballerina gets injured, then the photographer will have to answer. Before shooting, the ballerina must warm up for 10-15 minutes, otherwise, again, you can get injured. During work, be sure to consult with the ballerina. And don't forget about breaks.

The topic of nudity and ballet - “pointe shoes and nudes” was mentioned. According to Darian Volkova, "it's gone." She assured that there are quite a lot of expressive means in the ballet that are not exhausted and allow demonstrating a wide range of emotions without resorting to "pointe shoes and nudes."

Then Daryan Volkova told how to take pictures in the theater - backstage and in the audience. She paid attention to many details. For example, she shoots in manual mode, but sets the auto white balance, because "the theater light is very beautiful, but it is constantly changing, it is impossible to keep up with changing the settings. " Turns off the autofocus illuminator. And during the performance, wraps the camera in a scarf to muffle the sound of the shutter. He doesn’t really like to do post-processing, so he tries to get the desired result right away. He prefers to wear dark-colored clothes for shooting, because they do not attract attention, which is important in the work of a photographer - "Dark clothes save everyone."

When the practical shooting started, a real ballerina acted as a fashion model.

Daryan Volkova shoots with an ILCE-7RM2 camera with SEL-55F18Z lenses (mainly studio shooting) and SEL-1635Z (reportage). Therefore, she was interested to get acquainted with the new model ILCE-7RM3 and make a comparison. “The camera is very strong,” she gave her own and joked that “the camera has a wonderful sound, the sound suits me, you can buy.”

Darian Volkova's speech turned out to be very interesting. She really managed to immerse the audience in a world of ballet that was completely unknown to them. Everyone was delighted. Especially when the practical shooting began, where a real ballerina acted as a fashion model. Ballet art is mesmerizing. When you do not just observe from the side, but take pictures, you begin to feel involvement, involvement in the ballet. Feelings are amazing. Most likely, this is why Darian Volkova made such a categorical decision at one time: “After shooting the ballet, I cannot return to portraits of ordinary people.”

Vladimir Neskoromny, editor-in-chief of Sony Alpha Professional

Learn more about Darian Volkova:



Ballet photography as an independent genre. Ballet photo shoots in the studio with photographer alena krisman Photographing goes on throughout the whole class

Energy, strength, beauty, emotion – a dance frozen in the frame always arouses admiration. That is why so many modern photographers work with dancers, and every year more and more interesting photo projects appear.

Photographers and dance

However, if you like classical and modern ballet, then you will be interested in other dance photographers. Someone professes the same principle as the Ballerina Project and places the dancers in an urban environment, someone makes art shooting in a studio, focusing on the beauty of movement and ideal lines of the body.

Among the top photographers whose exhibitions are held in the largest galleries of the world, there is Moscow photographer Alexander Yakovlev. Alexander works with the Bolshoi Theater troupe, and if you like the beauty of classical Russian ballet, then you should subscribe to his instagram (which has a lot of amazing work).

Ballet can be a great idea for a photo session with children. Probably there is no such girl who did not imagine herself a fairy-tale heroine, and did not dream of trying on a ballet tutu and pointe shoes. But, as you know, in order for Cinderella to get to the ball, the intervention of a sorceress is necessary. The role of the fairy was taken over by the photographer Alena Krisman. Once in the ProBalet project, every girl can feel like a ballerina.

Alena, tell us how your project was born?

Quite by accident. A friend of mine runs a small ballet school and had the idea to do photo shoots for girls ballerinas because none of them had quality portfolio photos. And when we discussed shooting options, we suddenly realized that ballet is a great idea for a photo project in which not only ballerinas, but everyone can take part.

What is the essence of the project?

We have combined an educational and interactive lesson dedicated to ballet and photography. As a result, musical and ballet photo tales are born.

How does this work in practice?

The ProBalet project started in November 2017. We immediately planned four seasons and decided that each season would be dedicated to a different famous ballet. Musical and ballet photo tales are held in groups that we form by age: 4-6, 7-8, 10-12 years old, so that children would be interested together. The winter season was opened with the Nutcracker ballet. The photo fairy tale consisted of two parts: first, a ballet photo session took place - the girls got acquainted with the plot of the ballet, put on ballerina costumes and got into the ballet class, and in the second part, for each participant, we created a fabulous image of Marie, the main character of the ballet.

So your occupation is not just costume photography, but a real immersion in the world of ballet?

Yes, exactly. When the project was just starting, parents sometimes asked - why should we participate in a ballet fairy tale if we can just watch ballet in the theater? The thing is, it's a completely different format. In the theater you look at what is happening from the audience, but here you become a participant in the action, these are completely different sensations. We invite professional ballerina-teachers who first tell the children the libretto of the ballet, and then conduct a choreography lesson - they show the movements, the main ballet positions. Each class is accompanied by live music. On the set of The Nutcracker, we were accompanied by a harpist from the Svetlanov Orchestra. The harp is a magical, fabulous instrument, the children were simply delighted with the opportunity to touch the harp, touch the strings.

Are photographs taken throughout the session?

Yes, that's why we get both reportage and staging shots, a live story about a musical and ballet photo tale. A team of professionals is working on the project: decorators and stylists, musicians and ballerinas. For the filming of The Nutcracker, we selected bright, spacious photo studios in the center of Moscow. I shot with natural light from a window, and we also brought garlands and candles to create beautiful lights in the background. Costumes were sewn specifically for this project, for each girl two images were created - a little ballerina and a heroine of a fairy tale. Moreover, if desired, mothers could also take part in the shooting - we prepared ballet skirts and pointe shoes for adults. Sometimes teenage girls come to shoot, for them we conduct a purely ballet photo session with the participation of professional ballerinas. If children come and do ballet, we make technically more complex shots.

Why did you choose the ballet Petrushka by Igor Stravinsky for the second season of the project?

We wanted this shoot to be more active, with bright spring sunshine and colorful costumes. We chose a contrasting photo studio with a dark room and large bright windows. The task was to get as many different photos as possible, so as not to repeat ourselves and implement something new every time. It was possible to work with sunlight from the window, with backlighting, resulting in photographs that are very different from winter fairy tales.

We organized a photo zone with theatrical scenery, in which ballerinas showed a puppet show based on the libretto of the ballet "Petrushka", there was also a photo session in the entourage of the Easter Fair. Children were photographed with live rabbits and chickens, this caused a sea of ​​emotions in the kids. Then the girls changed into pink ballet skirts, and the photo session continued at the ballet barre. By tradition, we invited a musician, this time the lesson was accompanied by a violin.

Do boys and dads come to you?

Of course, mothers with daughters come more often. Once a boy came with his little sister, he led her by the hand into the hall in a very adult way. True, he was more interested not in the ballet lesson, but in the harp, he did not leave the musical instrument for almost the entire lesson.

Ballet is a momentary art. This is what makes it great. This is also his weakness. Each ballerina, even standing "by the water" in the back rows of the corps de ballet, can suddenly give out something absolutely incredible. Every prima, even the most talented, may not be in the mood. There are no identical “Swan Lakes”. Each ballet performance is completely unique.

But there are people thanks to whom the immediacy of this art is imprinted in eternity, no matter how pompous it may sound.

A ballet photographer is an absolutely “made-to-measure” creature, as unique as what he shoots. The names of ballet photographers are always well known, especially among connoisseurs: Mark Olic, Irina Lepneva, Ekaterina Vladimirova, Mark Hageman, Gene Schiavone. But today, under the heading "", I want to bring to your attention, perhaps not so famous, but no less talented young Odessa photographer Kirill Stoyanov . By and large, he has been engaged in ballet photography not so long ago, but personally it seems to me that in all his photos there is something that catches the eye, makes you think, peer…

Kirill answered all my questions very inspirationally and thoughtfully, so I decided to take a chance and post his interview almost without cuts. I hope you find it as interesting as it is for me!

Kirill was born and raised in Odessa. He “had a hand” in art from early childhood: from the age of 3.5 he went to the “Center for Aesthetic Education” (now the “Children's Theater School”) to the theater and art department, where there were acting, dance, and drawing . " There I got acquainted with art and was convinced that only with art I want to connect my life …»

At the same time, he studied at a music school in the violin class, and then on his favorite instrument - the guitar. After the 9th grade, he studied in the theater class at the 37th school, then entered the Odessa National University named after I.I. Mechnikov at the Faculty of Cultural Studies and today is a graduate student at Ushinsky .

“I was very interested in fine arts, and from childhood it seemed to me that to draw is to enjoy the embodiment of the images that my consciousness draws for me. I liked graphics and tattoos, I spent quite a lot of time drawing, and drawing on anything: in notebooks, on any pieces of paper. When the computer appeared, I was interested in drawing on it, I tried to learn Adobe Photoshop on my own and finish drawing my drawings, which I scanned from paper. I started experimenting with Photoshop in 2006, and a year later I got a camera and with growing interest I began to devote more and more time to photography. In the beginning, most of all I liked photographing the sea, nature, animals. And so, in my free time, I paid more and more attention to photography, visited photo exhibitions, talked with photographers, and looked for books on photography. By the third year of university, I could no longer imagine myself without photography. My knowledge was supplemented by practical experience of working on a TV channel as a live videographer. There I honed my knowledge of composition, the ability to work in a team and much more, which helped me a lot in the future.”

And then the muse intervened . “My desire to photograph a ballerina led me to the path I am on now. So it turns out that my creative environment created the atmosphere in which my hobby began to develop very rapidly. After I managed to get acquainted with the ballerina, who was still a student at the choreographic school, I had a desire to connect my life with her. So for me the art of ballet, photography and love has become something whole and inalienable. Before meeting my muse, I knew very little about ballet.”

The first acquaintance with the theater took place very early - at two and a half years : “Before taking me to the theater, my mother explained to me well how to behave, what would happen. We sat in the stalls, almost in the very last places: apparently so that if I behave badly and cannot watch the performance to the end, I would not disturb other spectators and leave without disturbing anyone. But I remember that I watched the performance and even made a remark to two women who were talking among themselves. I clearly remember how I turned to them and said, as my mother taught: “You can’t talk during the performance. ” I don't remember what happened on the stage, but I remember that I really liked it. As for the first ballet, which I already saw from the point of view of photography - this is Swan Lake, I went to see it in 2009year.

I also vaguely remember how I brought flowers to the stage of the Opera House, also at about 3-4 years old, and also made a strong impression on me. I was backstage and literally felt the shock of what was happening. Then the artists seemed to me unearthly creatures, their costumes were very beautiful. All this had such an effect on me that I did not reach the forefront from fright and gave the flowers to someone who was standing on the edge and ran away. Then everything that was behind the scenes seemed to me 3 times larger than it actually was: huge stairs, unthinkably large backstage and stage.

Who would have thought that after a while this little frightened boy would start collaborating with the Odessa Theater .

“Cooperation began with an acquaintance with Yuri Vasyuchenko. By the time I was filled with the desire to photograph the ballet in the theater, there had been a change in the composition: the Honored Artist of Russia, former soloist of the Bolshoi Theater Yuri Valentinovich Vasyuchenko became the choreographer. I turned to him with a request to allow me to photograph the ballet, he immediately approved my desire, and moreover, he advised me from what points it is best to do it and which moments should be photographed and which should not. I still use this knowledge now, and we have excellent relations with Yuri Valentinovich, and if necessary, I provide him with a photo.

The theater administration learned about me already from Vasyuchenko and, if necessary, invites me to performances that they need to record. Also, on his advice, my photographs are now used in booklets for the ballets Giselle, Nureyev Forever, The Sleeping Beauty and many others. In addition to our theater, I also collaborated with guest performers - most often from the Mariinsky Theatre, who also contacted me and asked me to shoot performances. Not every photographer can provide high-quality ballet photos. Ballet must be photographed ".

Ulyana Lopatkina

Kirill is a frequent guest of the ballet backstage. What is really going on there?

“During the performance, backstage, there is something similar to a homely, family atmosphere. Everyone is busy. In our theatre, I don't know that "bad theatre" that is commonly referred to as a creepy tense place full of gossip where everyone is ready to trip and do harm in order to succeed. The friendly atmosphere behind the scenes unites artists, stage fitters, and teachers. Of course, I do not presume to say that this is so, yet I am not part of the troupe,0086 but I see what I see: a kind team, friendly and sincere . They have a tradition of celebrating premieres with the whole team: the one who danced the premiere invites the entire ballet troupe to a small buffet.

Funny incidents are often unexpected, and you can talk about them in context, because they happen almost every performance - and all this is due to the sense of humor of the artists!

From the last occasions I remember how the soloist Koya Okawa went on stage to dance Basil's variation from the ballet Don Quixote, and the orchestra began to play the music of the inserted female variation, but he did not even show it, but simply danced as if nothing had happened . Only artists and people who are familiar with ballet understood and appreciated this, otherwise, I'm sure everyone thought that everything went well.

Usually, the funniest thing happens on the so-called green spots, the last performances of the year or the last performance of a tour. Alas, I was not a witness to this, but I saw a photo of how our troupe on tour had fun at the play “Giselle”: all the girls who danced the jeeps painted their faces with white paint, and in the first act, the actress in the role of a courtier made a pregnant belly. The boy dressed in a dress and went out as a lady, and the girl as a gentleman. The photos and videos were very funny.

And you want to forget and not remember the sad cases. Once, when I was filming a ballet from behind the scenes, right next to me on the stage, a girl jumped unsuccessfully and fell, getting injured. Fortunately, I had a mobile phone, I immediately dialed an ambulance, because artists usually do not take phones with them to the stage.

Of course, once in the world “on the other side of the ramp”, the perception of the ballet world itself changes greatly . “For starters, I realized that artists are the same people. Previously, for me, ballet dancers were unearthly creatures, I could not imagine how much work and diligence were hidden behind their air movements. I learned more about what is hidden to the average viewer, but from this I only began to pay more attention to what is important for the artists themselves. It can be said that I understood what should be paid attention to, what is good and what is bad in ballet. I am also surprised how different the atmosphere of the stage and the auditorium is, what magic happens during intermissions, when the scenery is rearranged. It is very beautiful when the lighting director checks the direction of the lighting fixtures and changes the lighting from bright and warm yellow to blue-green: then in a few minutes the stage changes its appearance along with the artists, who at that moment rehearse their roles and repeat combinations. In this tense magical state, trembling in anticipation of the continuation of the performance, I myself feel a strange euphoria. For me, this short time before the start of the performance is my favorite. .

Ballet art has become closer to me. Already after a year of my acquaintance with the life of the theater, I began to feel part of this organism. When I photograph ballet performances backstage, I sometimes go into a kind of trance. I already remember quite well the order of the performances and I know where it would be more interesting for me to be at one time or another in order to shoot this or that scene from an interesting angle. So I am busy with my work along with the artists on the same stage . A truly pleasant feeling."

Cyril's favorite girl, his beautiful muse is. How does it feel to be around an up-and-coming artist whose life mostly consists of classes and rehearsals?

“I get asked this question a lot. As for personal life, we ourselves believe that our secret is that we are both interested in development. We have quite a lot in common, but the most important thing is the “desire to achieve something more”, and also the “goal” towards which each of us is moving. Two moving people, especially in a creative direction ... - this is what is the unifying factor .

Being close to an artist whose life consists of many rehearsals and classes is what encourages me to not sit still and develop . You need to understand that ballet is hard work. I appreciate the work of my beloved, I try to support her, to be there as often as possible. I accompany her to the theater and meet her after rehearsals, I try not to miss performances.

Kirill and Elina

Photographing a ballerina in a studio is quite simple, you don't need to be a "ballet photographer" for this. Filming a live performance is a much more difficult task, and not only from a technical point of view. What does it take to get the perfect “ballet photo”?

“This is a topic that you can talk about for a long time and not fully reveal all sides. I've been photographing ballet not too long ago. It turns out that for the fourth year, with the regularity available to me, I attend ballets and take pictures both backstage and from the audience. Of course, ballet for shooting is a topic that is impossible to approach without knowing many points. You need to know the libretto, the music in order to understand which steps will be performed now (because the musical movements are arranged in such a way that strong parts of the music fall on the points of the movements), the order of the dance, and of course, the movements that look favorably from a certain point of view and only in certain moment, not earlier and not later. Such knowledge can be useful when shooting from different angles, both from the audience and from behind the scenes.

I try to choose such a shooting point in order to achieve the desired effect, relying on the knowledge of the libretto, I try to change the shooting points so as not to be late for the moment I need in the performance. Of course, we should not exclude the technical side. Filming in the theater requires good equipment, because often dark, half-tone scenes are difficult to photograph. Combining the technique and knowledge of order, you can make the perfect photo. It is also important to remember that each performance is truly unique and there will never be another one like it. . You need to be in an extremely collected state, not be distracted, think about photography, how to set up the camera, and at the same time carefully monitor everything that happens. Only then can you find the same photo, one by 100.

When I started photographing ballet, I was in a kind of euphoria, I tried to photograph everything that was happening. Of course, over time, many things seem less interesting, so it is extremely important for me to notice something new every time, not to treat anything that happens on stage as “ordinary and passed”, try to look at what is happening from different angles , literally and figuratively.

Changing perspectives is not enough, it is important to change your view of what is happening . I try to photograph exactly what I like about ballet, I try to look for live moments that inspire me. It is on this principle that I now photograph the ballet - carefully, with love and with feelings open to the perception of new things ".

Kirill, as you can see, has an amazing series of backstage photos. How do you capture such moments?

“Again, you need to understand “why” and “what” you are photographing: only then there is a chance to find the right moment. Ballerinas are embarrassed, but only if they are intrusive. Despite the fact that I am familiar with all the artists, despite the fact that we all communicate quite well, I try never to climb into them with a camera and not distract them from work. One photographer said in relation to reportage shooting (which, in fact, is photographing backstage during a performance), that you need to be able to dissolve in space . He compares himself to a ninja, who is everywhere and nowhere, who is there, but he is not visible. This is a very correct approach, it is correct both ethically and psychologically. After all, when a person knows that he is being watched, he cannot relax and be himself .

It happens that I see a good shot, but in order to take it you need to get very close. I wait for the opportunity to appear so as not to distract or draw attention to myself. The reward for patience and attention is that I can stand very close, take a few pictures I need, and go unnoticed.

And, if anyone is interested, some technical information: Kirill takes pictures with a camera Nikon D 800, this is the latest model related to professional cameras Nikon .

“I find it very good for shooting in difficult theater lighting conditions and for me it is perfect. For shooting in the theater, you need a professional camera so that at high ISO values, the photos are still pleasing to the eye and do not lose information. I have 4 lenses, but I mainly use nikkor 50mm 1.8f, nikkor 28-300mm. This is the middle class of lenses, but there are plans to update the optics. The ideal optics for this kind of shooting are fast lenses. But I would add 28mm f/2.8 Nikkor, 35mm f/2D AF Nikkor to my kit.”

Very soon, within the framework of the II International Arts Festival at the Odessa Opera, in honor of the 90th anniversary of the Odessa ballet troupe, Kirill Stoyanov’s exhibition “A Unique Moment” will take place . “In the last 6 months, from the end of 2012 to the beginning of 2013, I have been preparing the exhibition. I reviewed many of my photographs, of which I identified several topics that are most interesting to me. The exhibition will be dedicated to the artists and the feature that makes ballet so interesting to watch - the art of living on stage. ".

P.S. The opening of the exhibition will take place on June 3 at 16:00 at the address: Sabaneyev Most, 4, in the building of the "House of Scientists" . Most likely, I will be there too, so I will be glad to see my Odessa readers!

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Momentary art - ballet, attracts close attention not only of aristocrats and intellectuals, but also of photographers. Some report backstage, others take pictures during rehearsals in the ballet halls between machines and mirrors, others create the muse of inspiration in the dressing rooms. Someone looks at ballet as an art, someone sees sport in the statics and movement of ballet. And there are those who look at the world of fashion through a tutu, while others, inspired by the subtlety and elegance of the lines of ballerinas, see the geometry in the frame. Moreover, you can photograph ballerinas not only on stage or in the theater, more and more often dancers in pointe shoes and a tutu are photographed on the streets of the city, in the subway or at the railway station. Thus emphasizing that art should be not only in closed, standard rooms.

Ballet is spectacular and individual, there are never repetitive movements, it is a momentary art. Each time "Swan Lake" is performed by ballerinas in different ways and in their own way. Someone is not in the mood, and someone is not in the spirit. Even well-known primas can suddenly improvise, and this makes this art unique.

A ballet photographer is as unique a genre in photographic art as what he shoots. The names of specialists who imprint this separate cultural world into eternity are always heard, especially among those who follow their work:

    1. Vihao Pham


"Brilliant, semi-airy,

Obedient to the magical bow..."

"... Will I see the Russian Terpsichore

Soul filled flight?"

(A.S. Pushkin)

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - "Swan Lake" op. 20 scene

Mark Olic is a Russian photographer born in Omsk in 1974.

A graduate of theater and art schools, Mark has been involved in photography since 2002.
Mark has always been drawn but suffered from a creative block after moving to St. Petersburg. He became a set designer at the Mariinsky Theatre, where he began working "behind the scenes" and making images of dancers training and rehearsals in the theatre. The purpose of his work is to show what happens at the border that separates the inside, the space behind the scenes, from the outside, the public performance. The viewer in his photographs sees the difference between an ordinary person and a theatrical hero.

Mark follows only one key rule when photographing, do not interfere. His cell is disguised so as not to break the mood. This allows him to record absolutely natural and authentic photographs of life at the Mariinsky Theatre.

He has an amazing eye for this art, extraordinary work with shadows and image. It shows not only beauty, but also the hard work of people dedicated to the dance.

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