15.3.12

pas de deux

When I was in the 2nd grade, a ballet teacher arranged to hold classes in a room off the library after school. I didn’t know much about ballet as a six year old (in fact, I remember spelling it as “ballay” until I was corrected by a girl in my class), but my father signed me up. I was so excited when we went to Malabar to buy my slippers, black leotard, and pink tights, and wore my little outfit around the house constantly. Once the classes started, though, I was deeply unhappy. The teacher criticized my posture constantly, embarrassingly, harshly; she probably knew instantly that dance was not in my future. Putting my arms “round like a picture frame” was just so boring, and I was shocked and disappointed that I couldn't stand en pointe or do the splits after my first class (again, I didn’t know much about ballet or about how the human body functions; again, I was six years old). The first time I played hooky in my life was because of ballet class: I scampered straight home after school one day and told my parents that the class had been canceled (they knew I was lying). I probably would have liked it better if there had been tutus to prance and jump about in.


I do love ballet now, of course, although I don’t have the opportunity to go to performances very often. Yesterday a library colleague offered me a ticket to the National Ballet of Canada’s performance of The Sleeping Beauty with real-life wife and husband Heather Ogden as Princess Aurora (above) and Guillaume Côté as Prince Florimund, which was so generous and kind (thank you, Elena!), and so exciting after watching this video on the Toronto Standard last week. It was a glorious, lush, gorgeous performance, and tears sprang to my eyes multiple times. I hope I can go back soon. For now I will admire these pastel daydream (so blissfully blood and turmoil and sweat-free!) photos of some of the company’s dancers, from principal dancers to the corps.

Incidentally, I have giant bag of broken pointe shoes from the National Ballet in my basement. It’s a long story, and I am only temporarily storing them for a friend, but I wonder how many of these dancers used them.


Andrea Olteanu, photographed by Sian Richards



Heather Ogden, photographed by Aleksandar Antonijevic



Shino Mori, photographed by Sian Richards 
(Shino played the White Pussycat in last night’s performance—so good!)

Sonia Rodriguez, photographed by Aleksandar Antonijevic


Ryan Booth, photographed by Sian Richards


Patrick Lavoie, photographed by Sian Richards


Jillian Vanstone, photographed by Aleksandar Antonijevic


Kathryn Hosier, photographed by Sian Richards

Krista Downson, photographed by Sian Richards


83 comments:

  1. The colors in these photos is like a dream! I remember getting to see the Nutcracker one Christmas with my grandmother when I was maybe 17. It was so perfect. I'd love to go back someday.

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    1. I know, they're so beautiful! I have never seen The Nutcracker, but it may be a tradition worth starting.

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  2. these photographs are beautiful x

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  3. these photos are stunning. thank you for sharing them!

    i had a similar ballet experience: i loved the beauty of it from afar (and was thrilled to pick out my first pair of ballet slippers, too!), but quickly discovered it was not for me. i took for two years and was pretty awful; the only reason i lasted that long is because my aunt is a former professional ballerina who now owns a dance school. ah, well. i still love to watch.

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    1. I still remember that disappointment! Ah well, you're right, it's still lovely to watch.

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  4. I danced ballet from age 3 to 17, and stopped because of injuries partly related to pointe work. Fortunately, I enrolled before I really knew what ballet was supposed to be like, so I didn't have the disappointment of being unable to wear pointe shoes or do all the splits right away haha! Those photos are beautiful and make me want to go back (both to see ballet performances and to dance). Next time you're in Montréal, I really recommend you stop by Rosseti (it's on St-Denis corner Des Pins). They have a pointe-maker, Shawn, who is a celebrity with so many big and small ballet companies for his precise pointe-fitting (I always took trips to Montreal to by mine from him!) and has so many authographed pointe shoes and photos all over the shop/workshop. Definitely worth a look!

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    1. Oh wow, you went very far! You must be very disciplined. And thank you for the recommendation. I really hope to visit Montreal soon, and will add Rosseti to my list.

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  5. My parents signed me up for ballet when I was four and I was soooo excited. Until the first day of class when they told us that we could expect to get toe shoes around age 12. I quit almost immediately. Patience has never been my strong suit.

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  6. these photos are BEAUTIFUL. you can almost imagine how each split-second motion might continue.

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    1. For sure! I'm in awe of the photography, the styling, and the dancers. It's all so good.

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  7. These images are breathtakingly lovely. So beautiful!

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  8. Oh, I'm so happy you enjoyed it! You're very welcome.
    I took ballet for four or five years and it wasn't nearly as fun as I'd hoped. 90% of the class was devoted to the typical exercises, but then for the last few minutes the piano player would play something lovely and we were allowed to run around doing whatever ballet-like thing we felt like. I'm sure I looked pretty hilarious, but in my head I was Karen Kain!

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    1. Thanks again!

      I used to LOVE the running around part. I remember pretending to be butterflies during those free-for-alls, and that was always the most fun.

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  9. Wonderful! I did ballet all throughout my childhood and throughout high school. I was never talented in any extraordinary way, but it was such a good experience and I miss it all the time. These photos are so beautiful.

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    1. Oh yes, it's excellent exercise!

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  10. Jackson Dwyer and Kathryn Hosier, holy moly.

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  11. I'm shooting at a ballet rehearsal today and I'm so excited. Good timing, thank you!
    P.S. Huge fan of your blog :)

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    1. How fun! Hope you enjoyed it. And thank you!

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  12. these are absolutely beautiful, wow

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  13. Such amazing photos! I've always admired the beauty of ballet, but alas I would never have the dedication to learn properly...

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    1. It's definitely admirable... these dancers have done so much to get to this place!

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  14. I loved the idea of ballet but my teacher was awful - so awful that I hid under my desk at school instead of going to the class one day and my friend told the teacher I had gone to ballet. I was six and asked to quit that night. Now I love watching it and am fascinated by the lifetime of work it takes for people to succeed - these photos are beautiful.

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    1. Oh no! It sounds like you & I had similar experiences.

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  15. What is it about ballet man, tears my heartstrings to look at these images. pastel shades, beautiful people. I want to dress like a ballerina every day.

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    1. Agreed. The second the dancers came out on stage I had tears in my eyes. There really is just something about it.

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  16. when I was living in Denmark last fall, I was taking a class about European ballet and we got to go to the Royal Ballet several times. it was the most magical experience! I saw the Queen, gasped with delight over the gorgeous costumes, and developed a genuine appreciation for the ballet.

    enjoy!

    p.s. I was also a young ballet school drop out. I hated it!

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  17. Ahh! These pictures are incredible. I have the sweetest image of you running around in your tutu and leotard!! So glad you got to go to this.

    I never studied ballet but love it as a spectator. One of my happiest memories ever was a night at the Bolshoi in Moscow. I loved how much of a spectator sport it was. Men hurling roses at the dancers throughout the performance. I was expecting complete refinement but it was really exuberant and fun.

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    1. That sounds so incredible, Jane! What an experience. Someone kept shouting "BRAVO!" so passionately from the side that the rest of the audience would sometimes laugh—we so rarely let our emotions out like that!

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  18. Amazing! I love the ballet and actually went to the same performance after miraculously scoring front row tickets through dance break. I could never fully appreciate just how athletic the dancers are until seeing them up close... They are incredibly strong and there is such determined control in every step, yet somehow their movements are still so fluid and full of grace. It really blows me away. And Heather Ogden totally nailed it – she was just floating! On a side note, if they ever bring back Onegin again, I totally recommend that one! It's a heartwrencher.

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    1. Oh, amazing! I wish I were young enough to qualify for Dance Break. I used to get cheap tickets to the symphony through Tsoundscheck and I really miss it! There really isn't a bad seat at the COC but one day I would love to view from up close.

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  19. Adult ballet school drop out here! I should reall try it again though as the class is literally right next door. I was the only one with my hair in a bun! These photos are so beautiful. How they keep such a lovely facial expression is beyond.

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    1. I wish I could find adult ballet around here... although I would probably be embarrassed about how clumsy I am. And I know, it's amazing. No grimacing!

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  20. These images are gorgeous! All I can say is.. to each their own likes. Not every girl dreams of being a ballerina. My 7yo begged to have ballet classes, and we're letting her try it. Pourquoi pas? So far she loves the classes.. for us, it's wanting her to just try these things and have fun. Going to the ballet is mesmerizing! We saw the Nutcracker and took my breath away (here in Mtl)..

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    1. Of course! It's really great exercise! I didn't keep up with ballet but other forms of dancing helped me stay fit when I was younger.

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  21. Such utterly stunning images... Tsk tsk to the ballet teacher - at six it should be about fun, not reprimands...

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    1. There were times when it was fun, but generally, it wasn't very fun. I'm glad you liked the images!

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  22. I remember my first ballet recital, I was about 6 as well. We basically just ran around in a circle and "leaped" whenever we felt like it, haha.

    I've only seen a few professional ballet performances and while they are always lovely the last one blew me a way. If you ever have a chance to see Giselle you have to go. GOTH BALLET.

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    1. Totally adorable. Yessssss, Giselle is in the program schedule for December. Can't wait!

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  23. I don't remember much from ballet class, but I do remember Halloween landed the same night as ballet and we had to go co class in costumes. Every single girl there was either a Disney Princess or fairy. I was Pinocchio.

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    1. Haha! So good. I went as a fairy once. In my First Communion dress, the fanciest/prettiest dress I had!

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  24. Just had to comment to tell my ballet dropout story. My teacher was extremely strict (ballet was art and wasn't meant to be fun) and called some of the girls fat, but she called me "poop". Sometimes "mammoth poop". I was too sensitive a kid to laugh. That's not really why I left though. There was an "incident". I was accused of doing something I didn't do (some classroom vandalism), and the teacher yelled at me in front of the class until I cried. I was too ashamed to go back and show my face, so I just stopped going. I was 13. The teacher ran into my dad a few months later and told him that she was going to give me the role of Clara in the nutcracker that year, but she couldn't because I quit. It was all very dramatic at the time. I doubt that she would have given me the role, I think she was just saying that to mess with me! Manipulate me into feeling worse about the whole situation. What a witch.

    These photos are amazing and make me miss watching ballet though!

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    1. Oh Jenny, that's horrible! What an awfully mean woman! My brother had a piano teacher who used to hit him—what's up with these mean people working with children? My childhood was full of them too.

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  25. These are beautiful. Very classy and elegantly shot.

    xx

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    1. Agreed. I'm so glad you liked them!

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  26. I was never a dancer (and I suppose I'm still not), but I do appreciate the beauty and grace of the ballet. These images are stunning! :)

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  27. I would have loved to be a ballerina! I think it's the most beautiful thing ever. Such amazing and elegant photos.

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    1. It's never to late to take a class for fun!

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  28. These photos are astonishing. The way dancers use their bodies to create works of art like that leaves me breathless.

    I did ballet for maybe three years, I don't remember why I stopped. I suspect it was a teacher thing. I think I got up to a higher class and realised it would involve actual work, not just skipping around a giant dance studio that had pink and blue flowers painted on the floor.
    I broke my arm somewhere in those three years, and there's this epic photo of me all dolled up for a performance with my arm in a cast, glaring at the photographer like I want to kick them in the shins.
    Good times.

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    1. Aw, that sounds adorable! And sad. But mostly adorable.

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  29. Ooh, beautiful! They remind me why I dance 20 hours a week. Although I'm sure I don't look like this yet...

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  30. I too thought I'd be able to stand en pointe when I got ballet slippers for class at age 4. For whatever reason I didn't last long but I've since gone back to take adult classes and I much enjoy all the discipline now. Love the non-traditional styling of these photos.

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    1. I think I should seek out some adult classes myself. I bet it's an incredible workout.

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  31. Ahh sorry to hear your first introduction to ballet wasn't very positive. I was so lucky to have a teacher who taught the love of dance as well as the dance itself, and she was very accommodating of all shapes and talents.

    Those photos are incredibly stunning - some of them appear just suspended in midair, weightless, effortless - that illusion is half the battle!

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    1. I know! It's so easy to look at these images and think they're simply beautiful, until you start imagining what it took to create them. Incredible!

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  32. Oh my. My head is exploding a little bit. These are amazing photographs.

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  33. Beautiful photos! Amazing fluid movements and challenging poses that I only wish I could do!

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  34. what a wonderful story about your 'ballay' experience. incredible beautiful images. i have 2 quite obsessed ballet boys (6 and 8)- the youngest one wants to be a ballerina...

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, ha. And aw, that's adorable!

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  35. I have a similar story concerning Scottish highland dancing classes actually - and that's nowhere near as pretty as ballet! I've never been to the ballet actually, although I've always wanted to go. Sleeping Beauty sounds lovely though, and these pictures do make me want to see if I can engineer a trip sometime!

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    1. I love that you took Scottish highland dancing classes! And yes, you have an incredible company nearby, and if they're anything like our National Ballet, sometimes they have great deals on cheap tickets. I will cross my fingers for you!

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  36. Anonymous20.3.12

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT

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  37. AHHHHH!!! A blogger in my city with such style, and an appreciation for National Ballet. I think I like you ;)

    The primary poster for Sleeping Beauty has captured me now for months. Such beautiful work, to one of my favourite ballets. Oh to own a season pass and see it all.

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    1. Thank you! And thanks for saying hello. I agree -- that poster is phenomenal. I love the direction they took the styling in, and I love that it highlighted that gorgeous costume. Agreed! My kingdom for a season pass.

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  38. they are wonderful!!!!!!!

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  39. Anonymous31.3.12

    Wow.....amazing x

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  40. BEAUTIFUL PICTURES!

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