The Brutal Beauty of Dance

Marianela Núñez Rick Guest portrait

I recently discovered London-based photographer, Rick Guest’s book, What Lies Beneath.  It features the stunning images he took of some of the world’s best dancers. Guest’s aim was to capture the ‘determination and sacrifice’ that goes into the gruelling training regimes of professional dancers.

Guest: ‘The photos were taken over the last three years, with the dancers always coming to my studio. I felt it was important to remove them completely from the world where they perform, in order to better get under their skin as people, not just the dancer playing a character.  Part of their job is to make the physicality of what they do appear effortless and only be seen in terms of how it adds to the narrative of the performance, but this does a great disservice to their art and its appreciation.

The photo above is of Argentinian ballet dancer Marianela Núñez, a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet.  Below are three more of my favourite images from the book.  They are of (in the order shown) Sergei Polonin, Zarina Stahnke and Eric Underwood…

Sergei Polonin by Rick Guest

Zarina Stahnke by Rick Guest

what lies beneath rick guest

I also love this GIF, a mash-up of all the stills from Guest’s book, which allows the dancers to move…

A mash-up of Rick Guest's what lies beneath

In case you’re in any doubt of the brutality of dance, here are couple of images (not by Rick Guest) of dancers’ feet…ouch!

ballet dancer's feet

A ballet dancer's feet on pointe

To close, here is a video featuring key moments from one of the best dance documentaries ever made, Pina 3D, a film for Pina Bausch by Wim Wenders.  It’s set to Song of the Stars by Dead Can Dance.  The video perfectly captures the brutal beauty of dance…

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