In celebration of today being Saint Valentine’s Day, Ballet NEWS brings you a spectacular photo shoot by photographer Bex Singleton at a hand picked location where dancers Daria Klimentová and Vadim Muntagirov (Senior Principal & First Soloist respectively, from English National Ballet) were invited to evoke a flavour of St Valentine.
Of course I can’t pull this off on my own, and I’ll introduce you to the unique fabulousness that is Team Awesome as we go.
The name “Valentine” is derived from valens, which means strong & powerful. Perfect, then, for Vadim, and Daria’s fizzing enthusiasm and girly infectious laughter were the perfect foil for him.
They both arrived early and Kerry White, make-up artist on the shoot, immediately got to work with our planned theme. Kerry has a wealth of tricks up her sleeve but I can let you in on two of them : first of all it’s worth having superb make-up brushes by Louise Young, which have been featured on Channel 4. The blusher brush was easily my favourite - huge, soft, very dense hairs which made blending look easy & the results, seamless. The brush is such a beautiful work of art that you won’t want to use it, but I recommend you do! Kerry also has a tip when it comes to cleaning brushes, especially a thick brush – use MAC’s Brush Cleanser.
Kerry elaborates on the detail, “Daria’s look was put together by using Armani Luminous Silk Foundation which is a hydrating fluid foundation that glides on seamlessly and has a really silky texture. This was followed by MAC pressed powder which keeps the foundation in place all day. On Daria’s eyes we opted for Make-up Forever Aqua Cream Eyeshadow in Gold, which has a very rich colour pay off and is easy to apply. The product is great as it doesn’t crease or smudge even in the most extreme conditions – so brilliant for dancers getting hot and sweaty!! To give definition to Daria’s eyes I used Elizabeth Arden Expresso Eyeliners Pencil on the upper lid which was followed by YSL false lash mascara to give extra length and instant results.” Daria’s lip colours were blended from two red shades to compliment her tutu by Polish brand Inglot, complimented with a gold eyeshadow to match the embellishment of her flame red tutu & Vadim’s jacket.
Kerry continues, “Daria and Vadim were a delight to work with. Although they clearly have extremely busy schedules and are highly in demand, they were forever patient throughout every aspect of the shoot. On set they were professional and efficient and worked through every shot as a team. It was lovely to see how close their friendship bond had clearly developed whilst working together.”
While Daria used curling tongs on her hair, Vadim stepped into the make-up chair. Kerry complimented him on how easy he is to work with; most of the guys she works with have no idea how to sit for her.
Soon they are both dressed; talk about fleet feet! These two know how to do a quick change – Daria in her red tutu & pointe shoes and Vadim in black, both with gold decorations, and we set off for the stage area where lighting consultant Pip Rustage has set the lights in consultation with Bex Singleton, the photographer, and has worked miracles in the huge, disused church with a mass of lights and technical wizardry.
Bex explains what we’re aiming for and shows Daria & Vadim their spot on the floor which has been marked so that they know where to stand. Bex & Pip take quite a few trial shots while the dancers are getting ready, to make sure that every light is in just the right spot to enhance both of them, and the arches you can see in these photographs. There is a certain amount that we’ve planned for, and the rest is being left to chance because we want spontaneity as well. I stand behind the camera with Kerry and Pip and we’re all looking for different things; ready to rush to adjust a light, or a lock of hair, or to spot a technicality that needs a minute adjustment.
And then it all comes together and magic happens…
Daria & Vadim have a quick change into a long French Rose coloured dress for her and white tights and Romeo-style loose shirt for him. Kerry adjusts Daria’s hair and make-up (mostly lip colour) and we’re off. This time we’re going for poses with langour and fluidity, so that Daria and Vadim can get closer – a tutu is a fairly restrictive garment and the plate shaped skirt means that Daria always has about 12 inches of space to herself !
Our time races by in lawless fashion and I’ll let you into another secret. Our security man was transfixed, watching the shoot on his screen – not wanting to interrupt or break the spell.
Afterwards Bex captured the mood perfectly when she said, “it was amazing to work with Daria and Vadim in such a beautiful location, and to be able to capture the incredible beauty they produce. I always find it thrilling to watch them dance, so to have them performing just for the camera was truly extraordinary.”
In no particular order, I would like to thank Team Awesome for bringing this creative brief to fruition. Without the professionalism and dedication that each of you brought to the project, I don’t think that it would ever have become a reality, and it wouldn’t have been nearly as fabulous or as much fun !
Bex Singleton – photographer
Kerry White – make-up artist
Pip Rustage – lighting consultant
And of course… we couldn’t have done it without our stars – Daria & Vadim – whose generosity and enthusiasm allied with their intoxicating love of ballet, are unbeatable. Thank you !
These backstage videos were shot on an HD Ultra Flip camcorder which I’ve recommended before for it’s easy of use, affordability and high quality recording.
And the videos themselves – unedited to give you a feel for what it was like to be there ….