Blog #185 11/24/16
The Russian travel magazine, Vokrugs Veta, recently commissioned me to make photographs of the young dancers and ballerinas-to-be who learn and train full time at The School of the American Ballet (SAB) in New York City.
The School of American Ballet (SAB) is one of the most famous classical ballet schools in the world and is the associate school of the New York City Ballet, based at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. The school trains students from the age of six, with professional vocational ballet training for students aged 11–18. Graduates of the school achieve employment with leading ballet companies worldwide, most notably in the United States with New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet.
The staff and administrators of the school were kind enough to prepare their students for my two-day visit on-site.
The notice posted in preparation of my two-day photo-shoot.
As always, when I’m shooting out of my studio, I arrive early to get a “feel” for the spaces and lighting.
This assignment gave me the opportunity to revisit work I had done 20 years before when we first moved to New York City. Then, in 1996, having worked with ballerinas in San Francisco, I embarked on a project to study dance more thoroughly. One of the many areas of focus included a visit to SAB to make photos of the students who come from all over the world. Many of these were eventually included in my book Passion & Line.
These were some of the images published.
“Passion & Line” https://howardschatz.com/books.php?galleryID=34
For the recent assignment I spent two days photographing the students, teenage boys and girls in and out of their various dance classes.
As in virtually every shoot I’ve done, I observed and learned a great deal. Despite my over 25 years of studying dance photographically, I still found more to see. One remarkable reminder was the attention of the dancers to their feet. In ballet, these take a tremendous beating, and need to be constantly attended to.
A great deal of time spent fixing, repairing, protecting, and suffering over their feet.
Eventually, when all is ready, shoes go on and it’s time for Dance!
Waiting for class to start.
In class: sheer discipline.
This class taught by Kay Mazzo.
This class was taught by Suki Schorer.
Suki was the same teacher I had photographed in 1996!
Here, Suki, back then; 1996.
Suki, now; still focused, full of energy and caring that each and every one of her young students develop to become great dancers.
One system used in class is that four or so students dance for their teacher
while the others wait their turn.
Students, not professional, yet; one leg lifted high, the other, not so. The slightest imperfection is corrected constantly.
I also had the opportunity to visit the boys’ class, in this case taught by Jock Soto, who was once one of the great dancers of the New York City Ballet.
Soto, paying very close attention.
I had freedom to explore from any position and perspective.
As in the girls’ classes, a few dance while the others wait their turn.
Peter Martins, a former Ballanchine great, now Artistic Director of the New York City Ballet and Chairman of the Faculty of the School of American Ballet, came to a few of the classes, to visit, observe.
I re-introduced myself as he had come to my studio in 1998 for a portrait, for the cover of DANCE Magazine.
Here with his two assistants attending both the Boys’ as well as girls’ classes
At one point during the day, the girls and boys came together for a class, “partnering.”
Despite the fact I worked non-stop for the two days, I experienced a sense of divine delight. It was marvelously joyful, and the students, many of whom will find their futures in major companies here and around the world, were captivating, engaging and beautiful.
In the bright, happy atmosphere, I made this image as an homage to the one I made 20 years before.
Suki and her 16teens: ballerinas to be.
Glitterati Incorporated, the publisher of the Retrospective, Schatz Images: 25 Years is now offering the two- book boxed set at a discount from the original price. The set comes with an 11″x14” print of the buyer’s choice.