A ballet performance is a delight to watch. Precision in movements, poise in steps and grace in performance make it one of the most spectacular performing arts. Those who have watched 2011 Hollywood film Black Swan — for which Natalie Portman won the Oscar for Best Actress — will recall how much practice and dedication is required to become an ace ballerina. But here we will not delve into the rigorous schedules of ballet dancers, rather we will bring to you the lighter moments and fun side of their personalities.
American photographers Kelly Pratt and Ian Kreidich have come up with a photo series titled ‘Dancers and Dogs’, with the aim to photograph 100 dancers with 100 dogs. Dogs of all shapes and sizes pose with ballet dancers for humorous and beautiful photographs. Through the series, the couple, who have been working together for more than 11 years in commercial photography including dance photography, want to show the lighter side of ballet dancers. “We wanted to show that ballet dancers, in particular, who have so much poise and control over their postures while performing, also have fun personalities,” says Pratt because of which they decided to pair dancers with dogs.
Talking about the aim behind curating the series, Pratt says that they wanted to create clean, fun and elegant images. “We have always loved working with ballet dancers because we love their graceful moves, and the crisp and excellent techniques that they exhibit,” she says adding that the dogs bring an added charm to the photographs.
Photographing human beings may be an easy job but what happens when you have to make dogs pose for the camera? Patience is the key. “Even the most well-trained dogs can have bad days and then they do not want to listen or cooperate,” says Pratt. She believes that the biggest challenge while working with dogs is that they have to work at the dog’s pace.
But on the other hand, they had professional dancers to work with which made things easier for them. “At least, we did not have to worry about the dancers, they were able to execute what we needed,” Pratt says and laughs.
She explains that they came up with certain criteria for the casting. For the dancers, they preferred professionals and for the canines they chose the ones who would be comfortable in new situations and not be intimidated by big equipment, new spaces and new people. She says that it can be a scary process for some dogs to be on the set because of which they took dogs who were confident. “A certain level of obedience training too was a criterion to get the images that we needed,” Pratt adds.
Most of the dogs belonged to people who had volunteered their pets for the project while a few of the dancers worked with their own dogs.
Talking about the experience they had while shooting for the series, Pratt says, “It indeed was a fun project! Though the project was challenging, it was in a positive and good way.” The duo further say that they have learnt something from every session they have done so far. “We’re always trying to do new things and expand the project in interesting ways,” says Pratt.
The photographers are currently expanding their project to cities other than St Louis, USA, and incorporating not only more ballet dancers but also rescue dogs, specifically, in the project.