pho­tog­ra­pher rick guest uses his lens to tell a new story about the world’s most elite dancers


Rick Guest takes a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in the pro­trud­ing veins that lace their way across the elon­gated limbs of bal­let dancers – and per­haps even more in­ter­est in the sto­ries of brute strength that lie be­neath. For three years the Lon­don-based pho­tog­ra­pher cap­tured dozens of elite artists – from var­i­ous com­pa­nies in­clud­ing The Royal Bal­let, the English Na­tional Bal­let and The Royal Dan­ish Bal­let – in poses of pure hon­esty, as them­selves, rather than in mo­tion, danc­ing.

“If you fall in love with dance, you inevitably fall in love with dancers, and the fact that you com­pletely be­lieve how easy they make it all look seemed to do them a great dis­ser­vice,” says Rick.

“I’m not one for peek­ing be­hind the cur­tain, and in no way did I want to break the wil­ful sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief dur­ing a per­for­mance, but I felt that if you can get a sense of what they have gone through to de­liver such in­cred­i­ble per­for­mances, it can only give the au­di­ence a greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion of their art.”

With work held in pri­vate col­lec­tions and na­tional in­sti­tu­tions the world over (such as the UK’s Na­tional Por­trait Gallery), Rick has pho­tographed ath­letes – in­clud­ing David Beck­ham, Jes­sica En­nis, Mo Farah and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo – for the likes of Nike, Adi­das, BMW and Hugo Boss.

But it’s the added el­e­ment of artis­tic per­for­mance lay­ered on top of world­class ath­letes that drew the at­ten­tion of Rick’s lens.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence of pho­tograph­ing dancers is pure joy. To see them on stage is al­ways amaz­ing, but to have them per­form three feet in front of you is elec­tri­fy­ing. The emo­tion they can evoke with just a look can break your heart and, when you’re in a lit­tle bub­ble with them,

The EMO­TION they can EVOKE with JUST A LOOK can BREAK YOUR HEART and, when you’re in a lit­tle BUB­BLE with them, you can BARELY BREATHE.

you can barely breathe.”

The re­sult is his book, What Lies Be­neath, which Rick hopes will in­crease ap­pre­ci­a­tion for this art form – and sport.

“I hope that peo­ple get a greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion of what goes into a dancer’s per­for­mance; that un­der the make-up and cos­tume, there’s an in­cred­i­ble ath­lete who has com­pletely sac­ri­ficed them­selves on the al­tar of their art form.” >

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