Photographer Brad Walls is known for his artistic use of drones. And in his new series, he's using the technology to produce work that turns traditional ballet photography upside down. While most ballet photography focuses on a single dancer, Walls wanted to highlight the teamwork that goes into this art form. To do so, he collaborated with six dancers from the English National Ballet.
Hovering his drone above the dancers, Walls honed in on the harmonious shapes they form as they come together as a troupe. At the same time, these stunning compositions aren't accidental. In fact, Walls spent weeks sketching out potential formations prior to the shoot. While these sketches help Walls, they also need to be translated into real life by the dancers, which isn't always easy. That's where the teamwork and coordination ingrained into ballet dancing come in handy.
“To help the process run smoothly, the ballet company has a ballet mistress (coordinator of the dancers) as part of the shoot to help translate my shapes into poses,” he tells My Modern Met.
Everything is captured on a neutral background, allowing the grace and beauty of the dancers to come to the forefront. As always, Walls focuses on the geometry and symmetry of the compositions. This result is a visually pleasing series that gives new insight into the world of dance.
For the dancers, it was also a new experience, as drones aren't typically used in this type of photography. “Ballet is not usually viewed from above,” recalls Anna-Babette Winkler, who was one of six dancers involved in the shoot. “I remember the drone humming over our heads and thinking, ‘Oh my, what is this angle going to look like.'”
Walls isn't finished here. In 2024, he's planning on incorporating these unique dance photographs into a coffee table book that will also feature images from the New York City Ballet and Australian Ballet. In the meantime, fine art prints from the National English Ballet are available for purchase on his website.