Motion captured: five of the best dance photographs

From postcards of ballerinas to digital shots where the performers barely look human, the art of snapping dancers has had a dramatic evolution

Photography created a revolution in the recording of dance. Before its advent, the history of the art form was mediated through the highly coloured accounts of critics or the stylised images of painters. It was only after the very first, stiff experiments with daguerreotypes in the mid-19th century that we began to accumulate evidence of how dancers actually looked to their contemporaries.

Production shots from the Mariinsky theatre in St Petersburg, dated around 1900, provide detailed evidence of the weightily decorative costumes and scenic opulence with which the Petipa–Ivanov classics were staged. Individual portraits of dancers (many of which were mass produced as collectible postcards), tell us much about the body types, the personalities and the stage presence of the era’s stars.

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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