By now, you've probably seen Harper's Bazaar magazine's Degas-inspired photo shoot featuring American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland. Us ballet nerds and Misty fans were totally thrilled with the gorgeous end-product, but we wanted to know more. We asked Deborah Ory (one half of photography duo NYC Dance Project) what it was like to be on set with the star, working with the couture gurus at Bazaar.
(Photo by Deborah Ory and Ken Brewer for Harper's Bazaar magazine)
Dance Spirit: What was it like working with Misty?
Deborah Ory: She was so fun and easy going on set. Obviously, she's a beautiful dancer, but she works really hard and is very down-to-earth.
DS: How did you implement the Degas concept?
DO: It was a big challenge. We searched for the right backdrop to shoot against, so that the photographs would replicate the Degas' paintings as closely as possible, and we used actual dancers as extras to recreate the atmosphere of the classrooms he painted.
But we were also trying to incorporate the groundbreaking changes in what ballet looks like today. It's not the same as when Degas was painting. We used dancers spanning multiple ethnicities, and, of course, Misty herself.
DS: When you shoot your NYC Dance Project portraits, what is your process like? How did it compare to the Harper's Bazaar shoot?
DO: NYC Dance Project shoots are simpler, with just the dancer, a hair and makeup team and maybe three to five people. And we don't usually have poses in mind. For the Bazaar shoot, we know the poses ahead of time and we worked from there. It was a much bigger production.
DS: What did you look for, from a photography perspective, to capture both the couture clothes and Misty's artistry?
DO: We always look at movement first and foremost—how dresses will move with the dancers. It's about making sure that nothing is constrictive and that the dancers can just be themselves and move freely.
Watch a behind-the-scenes video below!