To mark World Ballet Day this week, award-winning aerial photographer Brad Walls, also known as Bradscanvas, has released a new body of work that captures the performance dance as you've never seen it before.
Titled 'Ballerine de l'air', which translates as 'Ballerina From The Air', the project was inspired by an image by Olive Cotton, Teacup Ballet, a concept which Brad began exploring in early 2020, pinning ideas to a virtual inspiration board that consisted of shadows, shapes and tutus. "Most people had seen Ballet photographed traditionally," he tells Creative Boom, "and while those photos are undeniably beautiful, I wanted to rewrite the composition, purely focusing on the unique shapes and shadows of the art form."
Offering a fresh and unexpected perspective is something we've come to expect from Brad and his work. "I had photographed people from above – including Olympians and models – and while those shots were very compelling, I knew here that combining such a prestigious art form with an alternate view would truly be the embodiment of my work," he adds.
To make the project come to life, he contacted Montana Rubin, a member of the Corps de Ballet ('Body of the Ballet') at the prestigious Australian Ballet. Because of the current pandemic, Rubin was not currently performing on stage, nor working as usual with the ballet, and so she took no convincing to shoot with Brad. "With his clean aesthetic and attention to detail, I was excited to see how our worlds could mesh," she says. "Brad's unique viewpoint also gave me an opportunity to see my art form quite literally from a different perspective."
Brad chose two contrasting locations to shoot in: the first being a warehouse featuring barren concrete floors, contrasting against the Ballerina's soft movements, and the second being a private event space with picturesque floor tiling, complementing the visual aesthetic of Montana's tutu.
Together in this collaboration, the photographer and dancer explored traditional ballet positions, as well experimented with non-traditional shapes, specially-tailored for the "view from above". "It was imperative to pay homage to the art of ballet, while at the same time adding a new, modern spin which incorporated positions and shapes that were beyond the traditional art form," Brad explains.
He goes on to share a specific anecdote from the shoot, in which he asked Montana to "play" with the shadow created by her movements via the light, recalling that, "Watching an artist truly lose herself in her art form was a spine-tingling moment and one that a photographer can end up waiting many years to experience – if they get to experience it at all."