As part of Dancin’ Oxford 2020 The North Wall displays a collection of remarkable photos, Backstage At The Ballet.  Colin Jones (b.1936) is one of Britain’s most significant photojournalists but he began his creative career dancing with The Royal Ballet.  This dancer-turned-photographer focused his lens on fellow dancers as his subject matter, capturing hardworking bodies and backstage drama.

Jones’ backstage ballet photographs show not just the emotional intensity and beauty of ballet but also reveal the sustained physical exertion and discipline of a dancer’s life.  Photographs from the 1960s include Britain’s iconic ballerina, Margot Fonteyn and the Soviet-born Rudolf Nureyev as well as later images from the 1990s, featuring English National Ballet star Tamara Rojo.

This is the first exhibition in a public gallery of Jones’ ballet photographs, featuring rarely-seen backstage images of British ballet from the late 1950s to the millennium.

With grateful thanks to Colin Jones, Topfoto and principal sponsor St Edward’s School.

Dates:  Tuesday 11th February – Saturday 7th March

Venue:  The North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7JN

Tickets:  Admission free.

Opening hours:  The North Wall Gallery is open from Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm, and from 12pm – 4pm on Saturdays. Sundays & Bank Holidays: normally closed, except for theatre events.

Related talks:

Photographing Dance and Dancers, Tuesday 11th February, 5.30pm: further details here

The Collaborative Research of Science and Dance, Wednesday 4th March, 6.00pm: further details here

Find out more about Colin Jones here

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

Vibrant, colourful and humorous, English National Ballet’s Coppélia is a delightful entertainment. On Tuesday evening Tamara Rojo was a witty and astute Swanilda who was well aware that her fiancé Franz (Yonah Acosta) could not resist chatting up a new girl in town. Michael Coleman’s Dr Coppélius was a doddery and at times almost endearing, old man; a quack scientist whose experiments were fantastic rather than sinister. If he lived today, he would probably be manufacturing phoney diet pills for the naïve and gullible. (more…)

Thrilling, innovative and original, the programme Lest We Forget marks another exciting advance for English National Ballet under Tamara Rojo’s leadership. Following last autumn’s production of Le Corsaire, she has now showcased the company further with an evening that included three new works, each by a different choreographer.  Marking the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, Liam Scarlett, Russell Maliphant and Akram Khan’s contrasting approaches range from the almost literal and ballet-based (Scarlett) through the largely abstract and contemporary (Maliphant) to the intensely personal and culturally eclectic (Khan). (more…)

English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire is not to be missed when it comes to Oxford next week:  the company is dancing on dazzling form.

The work itself raises challenging questions about nineteenth century revivals and changing ethical perspectives.  People trafficking and piracy are at the heart of the story, and as Conrad and Medora escape, their companions drown in a storm at sea, in a way terribly reminiscent of recent events off Lampedusa.  The women are chattels to be bartered, pirates are romanticized and the Pasha is a stereotypical figure of fun.  The production doesn’t so much negotiate this minefield as skim the surface without pausing for long enough to make the audience uneasy, which is perhaps surprising, given the dark tone of the pre-production publicity photographs. (more…)