Polina Buzanova of Ballet Maniacs for Anna Pavlova Network

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Dear Polina, please tell us how you fell in love with ballet.

What is ballet for you and has your relation with ballet been changing with  time?

For me, ballet is a synthesis of all arts, the highest art.

When through music, lights and decoration human bodies are trying to understand human soul.

My relationship with the ballet during the whole of my life was completely different.

At first, when I was little, I wanted to be ballerina. But after year in ballet school, I understood that ballet is not for me. It was so boring)))).

So… I almost forgot about it. Of course, I knew our ballet stars, knew ballet events in general, but lived contemporary life, interested in actual design, actual music. It’s seemed to me that ballet is wonderful, but remained  in times of Soviet Union, according to my feelings. I was too in fashion for ballet, as I thought

But thanks to happy chance ( it’s another long story), I found out as I was absolutely wrong. In one time I understood how ballet modern, always actual and genious. And our classical Russian ballet is still the best.

Gradually I became a ballet maniac, like some other people I know. But it was not enough for me, I wanted to show more people what ballet is actual, fashionable and immortal. I am an active person and as artist and designer, I decided to create a fashion brand devoted to ballet – BALLET MANIACS.

Potrebbe raccontarci la sua “storia d’amore” con il balletto? Come il suo rapporto con la danza classica si cambiava durante la vita?

Per me il balletto è l’arte piu importante, la sintesi di tutte le arti. I corpi umani uniscono con la  musica, luce e decorazioni per poter capire meglio lo spirito.

La mia relazione con la danza era molto diversa in vari periodi della vita. Da piccola volevo diventare ballerina. Dopo un anno alla scuola di danza l’ho considerato troppo noioso. Quindi…l’ho quasi dimenticato il balletto. Certamente, conoscevo i nomi delle grandi etoile russe però secondo me ero troppo di moda per per la danza classica, i miei interessi principali erano quelli di design e musica moderna. Il balletto per me rimaneva  nei tempi sovietici e solo grazie ad un’occasione felice che  merita un suo proprio lungo racconto ho scoperto che mi sbagliavo tantissimo. Finalmente ho capito che il balletto è sempre di moda, sempre attuale e geniale. E che il nostro balletto classico russo è ancora il migliore.

Gradualmente sono diventata  un vero ballet maniac ma questo non bastava e volevo mostrare alla più gente possibile quanto è bello, attuale ed immortale l’arte di balletto. Sono designer ed artista, quindi ho deciso creare un fashion brand dedicato al balletto ‘ BALLET MANIACS.

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Ballet Maniacs is a real family business now. What are the roles of all the

team members?

I have a husband. We are always together – living and working. Of course, he is also ballet maniac.

But BALLET MANIACS is my child most of all. My husband helps me in different questions. But he has another ballet projects where I help him.

Ballet maniacs è un progetto di famiglia. Come condividete i vostri impegni di lavoro?

Io e mio marito siamo sempre insieme, nella vita e nel lavoro. E certo, anche lui è un maniaco di balletto. Però ballet Maniacs è come un  bambino per me. Mio marito mi aiuta in tanti modi ma lui ha altri progetti connessi al balletto ed io gli aiuto con loro.

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How did the name of the brand come up?

When I realized that we are not balletomanes, we are ballet maniacs. For me it is more actual, more trendy, more realistic and, of course,  more humorous. Because humor is all for me.

Come avete trovato il nome del vostro brand?

L’abbiamo trovato quando abbiamo capito che non siamo semplici amanti di balletto, siamo più pazzi ‘ quindi siamo BALLET MANIACS. Secondo me questo nome contiene più umorismo, ma è anche più realistico ed attuale.

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Is your brand strictly for ballet dancers or for ballet lovers also?

Ballet maniacs are professional dancers, amateurs and just spectators.

They are on the scene and in the auditorium.

That’s why our wear for ballet dancers and ballet lovers. We have a part of professional wear, but not all.

Il Suo brand è solo per danzatori o per tutti apassionati di balletto?

BALLET MANIACS sono danzatori professionali, quelli amatoriali ed anche il pubblico. Sono sul palco e nella sala del teatro. Il nostro brand è sicuramente per tutti quelli chi amano la danza. Abbiamo una linea per ballerini ma non tutti i prodotti.

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Ballet Maniacs started growing not long ago.

What is your dream for the future? How should Ballet Maniacs look, for example, in ten years?

So… We will have some stores in different places of the world. It will be not only places, where people can buy our wear,  it will also be a multifunctional centre where ballet lives in its various demonstrations. Because BALLET MANIACS is not only the brand, it is also lifestyle. We do not have only commercial goals, but also educational – to show that ballet is cool and beautiful

Of course, it will be a lot of interesting collaborations and different directions, but it is always be about ballet.

Ballet Maniacs è un marchio giovane. Potrebbe raccontare i Suoi sogni, come deve essere il brand, per esempio, tra dieci anni.

Spero di avere dei negozi in vari luoghi del mondo. E loro non saranno semplici posti per comprare dei vestiti ma più come centri culturali multifunzionali dove il balletto può essere presentato in diversi modi artistici. Perché BALLET MANIACS non è solo un brand ma anche un certo stile di vita. Lo nostro scopo non è solo commerciale ma anche di formazione e di cultura, cerchiamo di mostrare quanto è bello e forte il balletto. Certo, avremo tante collaborazioni interessante in vari campi, ma saranno sempre dedicati alla danza.

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How would you describe  the idea of Ballet Maniacs in one sentence?

We create our things, to show how much we love the ballet, because it always inspires us.

Come potrebbe descrivere l’idea del Suo brand in una frase?

 I nostri prodotti sono fatti per esprimere la nostra amore per il balletto e anche  perché il balletto ci ispira sempre.

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Finding the right collaborations with photographers and video makers is very important for a brand like yours.

Our website is dedicated mostly to dance photography.

Tell us about this side of your work and about your experience of collaborating with professional ballet photographers.

As you know we are young and growing brand, that’s why we  don’t have a lot of experience in this direction. Of course, we already done a lot of, but it is only beginning.

In photo- and video-shooting we have rather difficult goals – to demonstrate the quality of our wear and correctly show ballet dancers. This should also satisfy the sublime art of ballet. That’s why the perfect photographer or video maker for us has to understand it. Ideally, he or she must be ballet maniac!

I think, in this case the best person to shoot is the ballet dancers themselves. Current or former ballet dancers.

Of course, there are some exceptions, but in most cases it is a rule.

Trovare collaborazioni giuste  con fotografi e video maker è molto importante per un marchio come Suo. Il nostro sito è dedicato prima di tutto alla fotografia di danza. Potrebbe raccontarci un po’ di questo lato del Suo lavoro, la Sua esperienza di collaborazione con fotografi di balletto.

Siamo giovani e non abbiamo tanta esperienza in questo settore. Abbiamo gia fatto tanti shooting ma questo è solo l’inizio. I nostri compiti sono difficili, dobbiamo mostrare la qualità dei nostri prodotti ma anche esibire i nostri modelli ballerini nel modo corretto. Le foto devono essere al livello sublime dell’arte di balletto. Il nostro fotografo ideale deve capire questo, deve essere un vero maniaco di balletto! Secondo me, in questo caso i migliori fotografi sono proprio ballerini, di prima o attuali. Esistono delle esclusioni ma di solito è cosi.

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Polina Buzanova exclusively for anna Pavlova Network, all rights reserved.  Photos by: ©Alisa Aslanova, ©Shukur Burhanov.

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Bożena Pazgan and her cloud dance project in Warsaw

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I like photography that takes us to some other world. What do I mean by that? I love photographs that show us a little bit of a fairy tale or that have some kind of  idea … sometimes maybe even strange, ridiculous but surely surprising and unexpected. Once I took part in the workshops during which we made a dress for a model. We made it out of a book. Exactly it was a Polish school reading book and the dress was made of sheets of paper from this book. Hm… maybe not too tactful but surely lots of fun.

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So every time I take a photograph of my dancers I try to invent something that could be interesting and surprising. Sometimes we manage to create a little bit of the different and unexpected world. The dancer with her beautiful dance and me with the idea of this photo.

I have my favorite place in Warsaw. It is the  beach on the right bank of Vistula. The right side of Warsaw is called “Praga” and it is said not to be too safe. But I used to live there and I love these atmosphere and people. Sometimes maybe it is not safe to come back in the night but  there are lots of interesting tenements, pubs and interesting places. I love to lie down at this right side bank of Vistula and look up to the clouds. It is also a little bit windy over there as at every river bank.

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Once I had an idea to take a model and take photo of  “flying with wind” dress. But when I started to take photos of dancers I thought it would be quite a nice idea to take one of my dancer to this right bank and take a photo of flying dress showing also the beauty of movement. But what  should the dress be like  to fly perfectly ? No, cloth would be boring, why not to try foil? It is much lighter and it flies beautifully on the wind.

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So I took the dancer Honorata Perzanowska to the right bank of Vistula. We made a dress out of foil and had a great fun. We also had the great audience. The people who  were taking  a sunbath there were keeping fingers for us and smiled.  We called this project  “Cloud dance”. Why ? The dress  looks sometimes like a cloud on these photos  especially when Honorata jumps up to the sky.

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Bozena Pazgan for  Anna Pavlova Network, all rights reserved.

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Sjur Roald. Interview

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How did your relation with ballet start? Were you always passionate about dance or was there some special event or person that influenced you?
I’ve been interested in ballet and contemporary dance for quite a long time.  There are not that many dance companies in Norway – and most of them are located in Oslo and Bergen – quite far from where I live on the west coast of Norway in the town of Alesund not far from the famous Norwegian fiordland.  My first ballet photos I took at the National Opera and Ballet in Oslo in the early eighties – and also in London shooting dancers at rehearsals.  Over the years I’ve watched quite a lot of dance films and bought photography books on dance by photographers like Lois Greenfield and Howard Schatz.  In 2012 I attended a workshop with Lois Greenfield in New York.  In addition to photography I’ve also done a bit of sculpting in marble and clay for which I’ve used dancers from a local ballet school posing for me.
Sjur Roald - Philipp Parkhachev, Maksiim Zubarev
dancers: Philipp Parkhachev and Maksiim Zubarev
Being a ballet photographer – what is the difference with any other professional photography field in your opinion?
– Ballet photography is not that different from other genres of photography.  It’s all about finding the decisive moments to press the shutter but obviously it’s an advantage to know about dance before to take on dance photography.  I’ve learned a lot from studying the works of other photographers.  Over the years I’ve been shooting dancers nude.  I find that they take direction more easily and in a way more conscious about moves and poses than models with no background from dance.
Sjur Roald - Olga Guseva
dancer: Olga Guseva
When did you go to Russia for the first time? What was your first impression?
– Each summer I invite models to come and work with me in Norway.  In 2014 I invited a Russian nude model from Saint Petersburg; Anna Orlova.  We got on very well and she invited me to come to Saint Petersburg the following year.  When not modelling she was a secretary for a guy who also had a studio in SPB.  From the summer of 2014 until I went to SPB for the first time in March 2015 Anna Orlova and I kept in touch and she was kind enough to organize photo sessions with models and dancers at the studio – among them Olga Guseva and Elena Stepanova.  I also wrote to the Mariinsky, Eiffmanand Mikhailovsky theatres asking for permission to come and shoot at the rehearsals.  Only Mikhailovsky gave me a positive reply and when in SPB I spent 4 days there shooting at their rehearsals.  It was a bit chaotic with a lot of dancers as I had no control but on my last day there I had sessions on a 1-to-1 basis with dancers like Anastasia Soboleva, Yulia Tikka (nowwith The National Ballet of Hungary) and Svetlana Bednenko which was much more rewarding.  Svetlana and me became very good friends and we’ve kept in touch via Facebook.  I would also like to mention a session I had with Anna Klimakova at the studio.  Anna Klimakova is a contemporary dancer and choreographer.  We got on very well and in August last year she came to Norway to work with me for one week together with a male dancer.
Sjur Roald - Andrea Laššáková
 dancer: Andrea Laššáková
Your latest travel to Saint Petersburg, did you have any specific artistic project in mind or did you just “go with the flow” of your journey? 
– After my  first visit to SPB I had so many images to edit.  I have posted one image on Facebook every day and soon friends request from other dancers started coming in and I also sent friend request to dancers I’d love to work with located in SPB (and all over the world). Anna Klimakova knows so many dancers in SPB and she was very helpful in hiring dancers for my next visit to SPB in March this year.  This time I only worked in various studios with one or two assistants.  Sessions with Olga Guseva, Elena Stepanova, Svetlana Bednenko and Andrea Lassakova I arranged myself directly with the dancers.  The session I had with Philipp Parkachev, Maksiim Zubarev and Ilya Beykov was arranged by German Shnaider – a dancer I worked with in 2015.
You  work a lot with professional ballet dancers world wide. Is there any specific trait that belongs to Russian dancers?
– I normally bring sketches (drawings and photos) with me to a session.  In this way the model will grasp my idea much quicker than if I had to explain what I’m after orally.  Needless to say It’s important especially in cases where the model does not speak English.  This is also the reason why I hire assistants in SPB with a fair knowledge of English.  I don’t always follow the sketches though.  In many cases we will end up with something quite different which can be even better than my original idea.
Sjur Roald - Elena Stepanova
dancer: Elena Stepanova
Please tell us more about your collaboration with models that we see on the photos published here…
– I must say that all models and dancers I’ve been working with in SPB have been wonderful!  So positive and enthusiastic and eager to achieve a good result for me.  After the sessions I invited them for lunch or dinner and in this way I got to know them quite well.  I send them all the edited images via email and they can pick a few that they want to have prints of. Each of them have expressed that they will continue to work with me again.
Do you have any programs for the future connected with Russian ballet and Saint Petersburg?
– I definitely will go back to SPB at least once a year to shoot dance.  I assume it will be quite difficult to get permission to shoot during performances as all the theatres have got their own staff photographers.  Anyway I prefer shooting in a studio giving me much more freedom.
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dancer: Olga Guseva
Please describe the character of the city of Saint Petersburg how you feel it.
– I’m so impressed by Saint Petersburg!  It’s simply the most beautiful city I’ve visited and I’ve seen quite a few around the world.  The architecture, the cathedrals, the parks – the lot.
And the people!  I’ve never met so many beautiful people, not only the dancers and models – but everyone I met have been so kind and helpful to me. The only problem I encountered was that so few taxi drivers spoke English!
When and how did you choose black and white as the main path to follow in your art?
– When I took up photography in the early seventies I used to shoot in both colour and black and white.  I really loved being in the darkroom to develop my black and white prints and I quickly realised that black and white  was my media and since then I’ve shot in BandW only.
 As far as dance photography is concerned I’m not that experienced, but my background as a nude, portrait and landscape photographer has helped me a lot in my creation of dance images.
Sjur Roald - Anna Klimakova Nikita Markelov
dancers: Anna Klimakova and Nikita Markelov
If you talked to a young photographer who wants to go to Russia to shoot ballet for the first time what advice could you give  him?
– If a young photographer wants to go to Russia to shoot dance I would advise him to first study images of ballet on Facebook – find Russian dancers and send them friend requests.
I’m confident that he or she will receive positive response and ask if they would be interested in a collaboration.  It would be helpful if he or she has some dance photos posted on their Facebook page before they contact the dancers.
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 dancer: Andrea Laššáková
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 dancer: Andrea Laššáková
©Sjur Roald, interview for Anna Pavlova Network. All rights reserved.

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Interview of Alisa Valerieva Uzunova. Photos by Vadim Stein.

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  1. Алиса, быть балериной – значит открывать душу зрителю и все время быть на публике. Сложно ли это для Вас или Ваш характер сам располагает к этому?

Dear Alisa, being a ballerina means opening your soul to the public and always being exposed to the viewers. Is it hard for you or your character is disposed to it?

  • Для мену это большое удовольствие находятся на сцене и передавать свои чувства и эмоции зрителям.
  • It is a great pleasure for me to be on stage and transmit my emotions to the public.

 

Alisa Valerieva Uzunova. Stein1

  1. В чем психологические отличия выступления для зрителей и работы с профессиональным фотографом?

What is the psychological difference between performing on stage and posing for a professional photographer?

  • Это очень разные вещи. Когда ты на сцене у тебя только один шанс, а во время фотосессии ты можешь кадр много раз повторить и добиться лучшего результата.
  • These are two completely different things. You have only one chance to do everything perfect on stage,  yet during a photo session you can repeat one element many times and search for the best performance.
  1. Вы работали с разными известными фотографами. Что бы Вы могли посоветовать юным балеринам, которым еще только предстоит такой опыт?

You worked with different well-known photographers. What would you advise to young ballerinas who have this experience ahead of them?

  • Я бы посоветовала им чтоб они расслабились перед камерой и были уверены в себе! Если ты не уверена в себе и в движениях которые делаешь то и фотография будет не понятной и чёткой.
  • I would advise to relax in front of the camera and be sure of themselves. If you are self conscious you will not be “sure”in your movements and  the images  will not be clear and comprehensible.

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  1. Представьте свою идеальную фото сессию. Где она должна проходить?

Can you imagine your ideal photo session? Where should it be held?

  • Для меня идеальная фотосессия бы была где то на супер красивом и экзотичным острове.                
  • My ideal photo session should be organised on a beautiful exotic island!     
  1. Вы предпочитаете студийную съемку или работу на открытом воздухе?

Do you prefer studio or open air shootings?

  • Я предпочитаю съемки на открытом воздухе.
  • I prefer open air photo sessions.

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  1. Важно ли для Вас как для модели выглядеть идеально или в процессе съемки Вы забываете о внешности?

Is it important for you to have the ideal appearance for a photo shooting? Or do forget about the beauty while posing to photographers?

  • Конечно я стараюсь перед съемками сделать красивый макияж и причёску. Когда я себя чувствую некрасивой, то сразу знаю что и фотографии будут не очень удачными.
  • Surely I do my best to look good before a shooting. I know in advance that if don’t feel myself beautiful the photos will not be too great.
  1. Человек, который еще не видел Вас на сцене, но смотрит на Вашу фотографию – что бы Вы хотели чтобы он понял и увидел в Вашем образе?

A person who has never seen you performing but who is looking at your photo portrait – what would you prefer him to see in your image and understand about you as a dancer?

  • Я всегда пытаюсь через снимок передать те  эмоции которые я на тот момент чувствую. Я не люблю когда снимок получается пустым без души и эмоции.
  • I always seek to express the feelings that I have inside at the moment of a shooting. I don’t like it when a photo is “empty” and without emotions.
  1. Что Вам ближе – классический “балетный” портрет или необычная арт фотография, фотографические эксперименты?

What do you like more – a classical ballet portrait or an unusual artistic photograph, an experimental shooting?

  • Я очень люблю экспериментировать!! Я всегда стараюсь  придать фотографии что-то необычное, чтобы люди глядя на снимок не сразу понимали а чем идет речь. Что бы было загадочно.
  • I love experimenting! I like it when people don’t understand right away what a photo represents. This way there is some mystery in it…..

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Photos by @Vadim Stein, interview by @Anna Pavlova Network

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Artyom Shlapachenko. Road to Frontier

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Artyom Shlapachenko shares with us his new project with participation of Ballet Nacional de Cuba dancers. It’s called “ROAD TO FRONTIER” and it is dedicated to the feelings of a person who decided to “cross the border” and start a new life abroad.

Paul Seaquist has taken part in this project as a poet, giving poetic “comments” to every image.

Here you can read his thoughts about this artistic collaboration:

– Emigration is without a doubt one of the experiences which marks the spirit of all men; because of this same reason it can be the source of the biggest expression a human heart can reach.

For many, it has had devastating consequences. Every sky when not our own deepens the feeling of loneliness. And a special courage is required, a heroic decision to find blind and without horizons a revelation of our own destiny. To leave our comfort zone not only of our homes, friendships and common experiences, but that of our own lives, gives us the gift of tears as well as the one of laughter’s; maybe even both at the same time. The garden in front of ours is always greener since it is not in front of ours  it becomes our present. To advance or not to advance is the question that freezes us even under the hot sun of Havana ́s midday. What will I miss? Who will miss us? Will there be any value in leaving all behind?

 Artyom dives into these questions with his photography and explores not only the pain of leaving but also the pain of staying. His images are sweet although painful and in them you can see the doubts, the illusion, the heartbreak of those who wanted and not, of those who could and could not, and now only have the option to look ahead and imagine.

Behind the Curtain.

My sight resides far away

In a place where there is doubt

But no rest.

Behind the curtains A.Shlapachenko

Routines.
The path between light and shadows
Flood me with fear
Midnights and awakenings.
Routines. A.Shlapachenko
It’s Never Easy.
The remains of yesterdays are not indifferent to me
Tomorrows are always warm, unforgiving
Far away…
A.Shlapachenko, It's never easy
 Further Away.
The last will always be the first?
Further away, A.Shlapachenko
 Silent Scream.
The doors are closed
From inside and out
Locks are not eternal
They are only moments,
Memories and moments.

Silent Scream, A. Shlapachenko

Mi Tierra.
Bare and tired
Dust frees me
Liberates me
Stalks me
Strengthens me
Mi tierra A.Shlapachenko
The Doubt.
The lack of perception
Takes, gives, is reborn and disappears.
The doubt A.Shlapachenko
 Missing You.
The weight of the form does not rest
On the rock that sustains
But on the aim of the shot
Towards whites and shadows
Far away…
Missing you A.Shlapachenko
Foto by Artyom Shlapachenko, poetry by Paul Seaquist. ©Anna Pavlova Network 2016. All rights reserved. 

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Bożena Pazgan about Dancers with Beautiful Hearts charity project

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Bozena Pazgan about DANCERS WITH BEAUTIFUL HEARTS, charity photo session organised by Centrum Baletowe Neoclassica and Natalia Wojciechowska for the Warsaw Hospice for Children:

I have been taking ballet photos of  Natalia Maria Wojciechowska, her “Warsaw Ballet” and “Neoclassica Ballet Centre” dancers since one year. Photography and especially ballet photography is my real passion and love.  My first photo of Natalia was a red haired ballerina jumping up. I was happy as a baby taking this photo and afterwards when I could see on my computer how nice it looked like. Then I got to know some of other dancers from her group and I really liked them.

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What I learnt about ballet and ballet photography ? I learnt respect, appreciation, patience and …. counting. The photographer has to respect the work of a ballet dancer. The body of the dancer looks like this, I mean so beautiful, because he or she had to work on it whole life. As they say hours of exercises, sometimes pain, sometimes tears and sometimes disappointment .  So me as a photographer I had to learn how not to hurry them up, how to work together to catch the most beautiful moments (counting is very helpful),  and that sometimes they just know better. They know better which of dance figures is good or bad and that a photo you think is quite good in reality is not. What I also learnt is that the dancers like to be appreciated. So you have to tell them how beautiful they dance and look. But in most cases you do not even have to lie. Because they do.

The dancers I know don’t only have beautiful bodies, they dance beautifully but also they have beautiful hearts. Natalia Maria Wojciechowska has organized the charity photo session BALLET PHOTO SESSION 22 czerwca “Black, red white”. We as photographers could take photos of  dancers of Neoclassica Ballet Centre. And the whole  income that we and dancers paid was given to Warsaw Hospice for Children. The motto of this session was “I live beautifully – I help“. I was not only honored that I could be a part of such an event but also as usually  I was so happy that I could take photos of  ballet dancers.

Dancers with beautiful hearts2

How the session like this looked like ? I think as an ordinary photo session. The light was adjusted by the employee of the studio. Every photographer had some time for him or herself and a dancer or a group of dancers (although as I was the only woman I could take photos first). Then every dancer made some ballet figures we took photos or rather caught the moments. My favorite photos are “jumping ” ones so I had to concentrate a little bit and “click” – I did it.  After the session I chose some of the photos but the last word about publishing as usually belonged to the dancer. Is that all? Not quite. In my opinion even though this photo ballet session looked ordinary in reality it was extraordinary. It was the ballet photo session full of very positive emotions and generally speaking we could say it was a photo session with “HEART”.

Dancers with beautiful heart6

Dancers with beautiful hearts4

Dancers with beautiful hearts5

Dancers with beautiful heart1

Text and photos by Bożena Pazgan, Poland. All rights reserved.

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