Dance Photography

Dance photography is becoming more popular now that dance is in the media. Today dance photography is more than just bad lit studio portraits in ugly costumes, they are beautiful pieces of art. Dance photography is no loner confined to indoors, it is all over and thanks to Photoshop dance everywhere even outer-space.

(Images Top: Me  Bottom: Tumblr Images)

Dance photography is important, it can be in an art gallery, used as advertisement, used as a fundraiser, found in a calendar but most importantly it is promoting dance to a wider audience. Some examples are The Ballerina Project, Ballet Zaida and Alvin Ailey. They all use dance photography for different purposes. The Ballerina Project sells beautiful ballet pictures that a photographer has taken over a period of 10 years using film. Ballet Zaida is also a photo project, but its features only the best ballet technique and has a focus on spreading ballet to everyone.  Alvin Ailey uses dance photography for advertisement for their shows, school and dancers.

(Images: Left- Ballet Zaida Right- Alvin Ailey)

 I have personally been interested in dance photography because there are magical moment is dance that I wish were captured on camera. For my photography class at school I have taking picture of dancers at Goucher College in black and white film and the results have been amazing. The dancers are happy to work with me and help me build my portfolio and they get a photo-shoot for free and have pictures to use in their portfolios for auditions. It is important that dancers help spread dance awareness any way possible.


(Images were taken by me)

So what is dance photography really doing to help? It is allowing the arts to prosper off of one another and flourish. It is changing the way media shows dance and it helps expand dance all over the world through the internet and prints.


Ballet changed one Jewel at a time

Neoclassical ballet now known as contemporary ballet will help spark interest into the dance world for non dancers. Neoclassical ballet is a ballet style that uses traditional ballet vocabulary but it shies away from the story line and plots of classical ballet and it focuses on the structure and lines.  It usually uses extreme tempos and has more complex movement; the spacing is usually more modern or complex than in classical ballet.

George Balanchine used flexed hands and feet, turned-in legs, off-centered positions and non-classical costumes such as leotards and tunics instead of tutus. That helped to distance himself from the classical and romantic ballet traditions. What is left is the dance itself, sophisticated but sleekly modern, retaining the pointe shoe aesthetic, but eschewing the well-upholstered drama and mime of the full length story ballet.

google images- (Balanchine ballet)

George Balanchine first neo classical ballet choreographed was Apollo in 1928. He choreographed other neo classical ballets such as Agon 1957 and Jewels in 1967. Jewels is an award-winning ballet in three parts created for New York City Ballet by George Balanchine. Jewels was called the first full-length abstract ballet. It can also be seen as three separate ballets, linked by their jewel-colored costumes. The dance has nothing to do with jewels; the dancers are just dressed like jewels. Rubies, to me is the most neo classical section in the ballet. It has high kicks, turned in legs, flexed feet, undulations and pelvic movement

Erik Jacobs from The New York Times

Here is the link to a video performance of Rubies

Non traditional or classical ballet will keep an audience attention who is use to watching So You Think You Can Dance, which has very entertaining dance pieces with lots of tricks. Story ballets are slow and less exciting there may be a moment or two but not very many. They are pretty and are great for young children. It is important to keep the arts alive and that starts with the younger generation.

Dance and the Media

Dance is the new black and everyone is watching it. TV shows like Dance Moms and So You Think You Can Dance are changing society’s view on dance. Dance began as a social movement full of expression and technique but today it’s a competition with lots of tricks and lack of emotion on television. In dance as a child you take technique classes in Ballet, because it’s said that it is the foundation for all forms.

Dance Moms shows the competition side of dance at an early age. It follows six young dancers who battle it out every week in new competitions across the country competing in solos and group pieces for the Abby Lee Miller Dance Company. The girls are learning a multitude of styles and tricks for each genre of dance. You can hear Abby screaming about technique and creating technically sound dancers but where is the passion? How can one find the passion behind the tricks and the flashy costumes.

Image(Google Images- Dance Moms)

Dance Moms is preparing the girls to go on to So You Think You Can Dance. I love the show, however it’s becoming more about the tricks you can do and less about the technique and quality of the movement. I think it’s great that the show makes everyone dance in multiple styles that they usually wouldn’t get, but if it’s a competition let’s make it one, lets take out the dance form “contemporary.” Most of the dancers getting picked to go into the top 20 are jazz or contemporary dancers. Lets challenge them take out contemporary and add African or better yet, take it back to the foundation lets add a Ballet pas de deux.   


(Google Images – So You Think You Can Dance Lauren)

The issue is dance is more than tricks and flashy costumes. It is a creative and artistic outlet for expression, that serves a deeper meaning. Classical dance forms like Ballet and Modern are being overlooked. Dance on television is just entertainment, it’s the glamourous side. Dance is not glamourous there are many struggles, one has to be determined and passionate to do it. Media should show both sides.  


(Google Images- Misty Copeland Pas De Deux)

Susan Jaffe!

       This past week at Goucher College we had a special guest artist in residence in the dance department who would be setting a work on students for the Spring Dance Concert. The guest artist was the beautiful and amazing Ballerina, Susan Jaffe! If you do not know who Susan Jaffe is she danced as a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre for over 20 years. Many people in the dance world would consider her to be a “Prima Ballerina,” very different than a ballet dancer. A ballet dancer is anyone who takes ballet and loves it a Prima Ballerina is Principal dancer in the company the role model that little girls dream of being when they see a dance show by American Ballet Theater or the New York City Ballet. On top of creating and setting a work on 7 lucky dance students at Goucher, she taught ballet master classes for the week in the dance department. I can honestly say that after taking class with her and observing her classes I have improved so much in ballet. The way she explains things to you like how to breathe from your back and expand without opening your ribs up makes moving and breathing in class so much easier. She draws upon her experiences to help explain things to us in class, which in turns inspires and motivates us to work harder. I am not a ballerina, I am a dancer and it is my passion, however after observing her class I looked forward to going to ballet and applying all of the things she talked about and seeing if they work, they did. After one week the dancers at Goucher College have improved greatly. It has been an amazing opportunity to have Susan Jaffe here and getting the opportunity to know her and ask her questions at Meet the Artist on February 10, 2012 along with watch the first movement of the piece in production was incredible. Susan Jaffe, had an amazing performance career. She accomplished her goal that she set for herself as a little girl. She has been a breath of fresh air for the dancers at Goucher College and I look forward to seeing the final performance. Currently Susan Jaffe is the Ballet Mistress of American Ballet Theatre and has published a book “Becoming a Ballerina” for children.

“Why do I need to be good at math when I’m going to be a ballerina?” – Susan Jaffe in middle school.

On the subject of dance and performance in class with Susan Jaffe

“Today am I going to be Mediocre or Beautiful? Blend In or Stand Out?… Beautiful it is.” – Susan Jaffe    

 To see the Performance of the work Susan Jaffe set on Goucher Dancers the concert will be held in April please check the website for more information.