How ballet technique can be improved with photography

November 5, 2012

Ballet News

Alaia Rogers | Second year student at The Royal Ballet School uses photography to refine her technique

ballet dancer cups her head in her hands

Photography throughout : Belinda Carhartt Rodriguez

Earlier this year I was photographing a rehearsal for Ballet News where the choreographer was present in the studio. It might sound normal but this isn’t always the case – sometimes the Ballet Mistress or Notator will take the rehearsal if the choreographer is unavailable – so it was a rare moment. What happened was unexpected. The choreographer was quite in tune with the timing of my camera shutter (you can’t cut out the noise completely and most professional dancers are used to it) and when something wasn’t quite working in the rehearsal he asked to use my images to demonstrate his point to the dancers, saying it was a valuable tool in that regard.

I’ve always found photography to be invaluable in an art as visual as ballet, and more recently I came across another instance of photography helping the dance in unexpected ways. Here’s the story.

royal ballet school dancer

Alaia Rogers is a second year student at The Royal Ballet Upper School in Covent Garden, London (RBS), and during the recent half-term break, Rogers returned to the Florida school of her former coach, Magaly Suarez, where she was photographed by Belinda Carhartt Rodrigues during rehearsals for an upcoming solo, of which more later.

Rogers received a scholarship to attend RBS at the Prix de Lausanne 2012, and you can watch her video diary here.

Prior to being offered a place at The Royal Ballet School, Rogers studied at The Art of Classical Ballet School. Rogers continues, “I won the scholarship (to RBS) on February 4, 2012 and started classes on February 20, 2012 as a first year student. I was really thrilled that Ms. Stock (Director of the school)offered me a place so immediately.”

ballet dancer from the royal ballet school

Of the rehearsal session, Rogers says, “Belinda took these photos while I was learning the choreography for the solo I am performing at the Lynn Seymour Competition on December the 12th at RBS. I am dancing a solo that Tamara Rojo performed at The Concours International de Danse de Paris in 1994 entitled Arayan Daraxa by Victor Ullate. I choose the solo because I have a great affinity for Spanish culture. I lived in Barcelona, Spain for two years from age 7-9, and training with a Cuban teacher prior to RBS. I felt like I would have a great emotional attachment with the piece.”

A picture speaks a thousand words

In terms of the photography and how it helped Rogers in competition/performance, she says, “it was a really an incredible experience to work with Belinda, to be able to dance and afterwards see still photographs that showed me which elements were key and what the audience picked up on. It was a great learning tool as well, because the competition is based on artistry, and I used the photos to refine my expression and analyze which positions translated well and made an impact and which ones didn’t. Not to sound cliché but a picture speaks a thousand words : it captures the entire atmosphere that as a dancer we try to create with each movement we make.”

If you’d like to find a photographer and see how it might help your work, please read my Ballet Business feature on how to be a media savvy ballet dancer or student.

royal ballet school dancer on pointe

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