WHAT LI ES BEN EATH
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.” >