Photographs that Capture Ballet’s Soul

How can you translate a moving art into a still image? That’s the dance photographer’s challenge. In a way, ballet, with its emphasis on perfect line and form, makes the job easier—it’s full of gorgeous still poses. But even the most perfect photo of the most perfect arabesque doesn’t capture the thrill of a live performance.

Danish photographer Ingrid Bugge has figured out alternative ways to get at ballet’s excitement. Bugge spent two years following the Royal Danish Ballet, creating wonderful dream-like captures of moments from the company’s performances. Rather than producing true-to-life photos, she collaged and manipulated images to convey movement and drama. As this video shows, it was a sort of painterly digital process:

Because Bugge isn’t a dancer, sometimes her photos showcase less-than-perfect moments, in ballet terms. But they do an eerily good job of getting at ballet’s soul.

Bugge recently released a print book, The Essence of Ballet, featuring her RDB photos. But the ebook version of Essence is even cooler: It’s interactive, allowing readers to explore her creative process, the evolution of each photocollage. Take a look at some of our favorite photos—then check out the print book here and ebook here.

All images by Ingrid Bugge (h/t The Guardian)

Video thumbnail for vimeo video Photographs that Capture Ballet's Soul

Gudrun Bojesen in La Sylphide

Ida Praetorius in Romeo and Juliet

Ida Praetorius, Gregory Dean and Amy Watson in Romeo and Juliet

La Bayadère

La Sylphide

The Lady of the Camellias

Video thumbnail for vimeo video Photographs that Capture Ballet's Soul

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