Natalia Osipova’s specially commissioned programme of contemporary dance at Sadler’s Wells was an opportunity to see one of the greatest dancers of her generation in new works by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant and Arthur Pita.

In Cherkaoui’s Qutb (meaning ‘axis’ or ‘pivot’), Osipova, Jason Kittelberger and James O’Hara experimented with ways of moving together, testing the limits of gravity and their contrasting techniques as they used their own weight to support, balance and counterpoise each other. Changes in the music, which included Sufi vocals, gave an episodic structure to a work so packed with possible interpretations that its meaning was ambiguous: suggestions in the programme included, among other ideas, the aftermath of a natural disaster, the interaction of celestial bodies, or a rite of passage. It was sometimes hard to see clearly the complex entwining movement of the dancers on the darkened stage; the work would benefit by being performed in a smaller and more intimate space. (more…)

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Rick Guest’s What Lies Beneath strips away the glamour from the dancer’s life and yet this exhibition in the gleaming white gallery at the Hospital Club is magnificently glamorous. Guest captures his subjects against luminous blue backgrounds in larger than life portraits that show the physical and psychological strain that lies behind every performance. He has allowed the dancers to reveal themselves as they wish, whether that is confident and in control, hesitant and uncertain or contemplative. They wear battered old practice clothes, their skin is scratched and bruised, and they have bunions, moles and body hair. There is a tension between the perfection and yet imperfection of their extraordinarily beautiful bodies. (more…)

Photographer Rick Guest‘s latest publication What Lies Beneath accompanies the exhibition of the same name to be held at the Hospital Club Gallery in January 2016.  Featuring an incredible range of companies such as The Royal Ballet, The English National Ballet, The Richard Alston Dance Company, The Dresden Semperoper, The Royal Danish Ballet and Wayne McGregor Random Dance, it includes images of dancers such as Alban Lendorf, Tamara Rojo, Sergei Polunin, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Zenaida Yanowsky, Edward Watson, Olivia Cowley, Nehemiah Kish, Hikaru Kobayashi, Federico Bonelli, and Yuhui Choe.  With a foreword by Tamara Rojo, Director and Lead Principal of the English National Ballet and an incisive essay by Sarah Crompton, this book is in a limited first run of 1000 copies, exquisitely printed by PUSH Print, and is in a large format, 300mm x 370mm.

Rick Guest writes:

“I wanted to make a series of portraits of the dancers themselves, as opposed to dancers dancing, to show the character that underpins their performance, to see the determination and sacrifice that it takes to succeed at such a high level.  In an art form that deliberately conceals the enormity of effort that goes into its creation, we are not meant to see behind the curtain, but I think that this does a great disservice to the dancers, and that having a sense of what lies beneath both enhances our experience of the performance and leads to a more profound appreciation of the dancer’s essential being.  These portraits are at once beautiful and brutal.”

What Lies Beneath is available from 15th December 2105 from rg-books.com
Further work can be viewed at rg-dance.com

Check out information about Rick Guest’s previous book of photographs The Language of the Soul here

Exhibition What Lies Beneath

Dates:  22nd-31st January 2016

Venue:  The Hospital Club Gallery, 24 Endell Street, London WC2H 9HQ

The Hospital Club Gallery

 

The Language of the Soul by photographer Rick Guest features images from his 2014 Exhibition at The Hospital Club Gallery, as well as many more in the series.  Working in collaboration with stylist Olivia Pomp, and featuring such luminary dancers as Edward Watson, Tamara Rojo, Marianela Nuñez, Steven McRae, Sarah Lamb, Sergei Polunin, Zenaida Yanowsky, Nehemiah Kish and Melissa Hamilton, it also includes portraits of Wayne McGregor, Kevin O’Hare, Liam Scarlett and Christopher Wheeldon.  With a foreword by Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet, this book is in a limited first run of 1000 copies, exquisitely printed by PUSH Print, and is in a large format, 300mm x 370mm.

Rick Guest writes:

“Ballet as an art form has always been a collaborative medium, whereby composers, orchestras, choreographers, dancers, artists and impresarios have come together to create something new, something greater than the individual elements. With this in mind, I have deliberately turned away from using photography to document dance as it’s staged for the audience, as important as that is. Instead, I have concentrated on the bringing together of three separate disciplines, that of photography, fashion and dance, in an attempt to create something new and singular.
Away from the constraints of stage, role and costume, the dancers are able to demonstrate their breathtaking capabilities in an uninhibited atmosphere, one that ultimately leads to a purer portrait of the dancers themselves. These images aim to illustrate the key tenets of balletic technique; balance, strength and poise. They are lit and photographed to enhance each dancers’ power and beauty, both physical and emotional, and the images are infused with a fashion edge that is at the same time evocative and playful.”

The Language of the Soul is available from the 15th December 2015 from rg-books.com

Further work can be viewed at rg-dance.com

The Royal Ballet’s summer season has drawn to a close, but on Monday we had the chance to see the company’s Frederick Ashton programme, recorded on the night of Tamara Rojo’s farewell performance in February.

The programme opened with La Valse, to music described by its composer Ravel as “a kind of apotheosis of the Viennese waltz”.  Originally choreographed by Ashton’s mentor Bronislava Nijinska, to a score that Diaghilev believed inimical to ballet, the sombre, slightly menacing, lighting obscured the dance too much and this did not work well in a cinema. (more…)