I went to the opening of Now Is All There Is on Friday night at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden, a photographic exhibition of stars of the Royal Ballet, taken by sports snapper, Rick Guest.
Photography exhibitions always make me writhe internally as people seem to be more interested in looking at each other than at the work on the walls. Particularly mortifying when you’re squished into a cubed contemporary room with a zillion lithe and graceful ballerinas.
Thankfully the bubbly was in full flow, and no sooner than I had sunk a sip of my Nyetimber, little orange bidding stickers had started to appear next to the images, that range in price from £650 to £2,500.
I quite liked some of the pics – there are lots of Loie Fuller-type skirts, swirling in and out of the shadow and contrast of the studio lights (some lovely swooshy ones of Tamara Rojo, Melissa Hamilton and Lauren Cuthbertson). And the one of Kevin O’Hare might be my favourite – it’s conceptual, yah, all eyeballs, as if he’s “keeping an eye” on the company.
Most people were favouriting the ones of Edward Watson, wearing little tight black pants and contorting around weirdly, like he does onstage – “what a thing to be known for!” he exclaimed when I told him
Guest usually takes photos of footballers and Olympians and the like (Jessica Ennis and Tom Daley, dontcha know), but he was deadly impressed with these RB stars, citing them stronger than rugby players. Which is maybe why he made Zenaida Yanowsky look like a man in all of her pics, or concentrated on strength over elegance when snapping Hayley Forskitt.
Most people were favouriting the ones of Edward Watson, wearing little tight black pants and contorting around weirdly, like he does onstage – “what a thing to be known for!” he exclaimed when I told him so. He also said that the dancers had free range to do whatever they liked during the shoot, and that it wasn’t branded by a Royal Ballet artistic brief.
Some of the images are more conceptual than others – Marianela Nunez looks like a space alien in hers, and Rupert Pennefather a demonic shape-shifter. I quite liked seeing a different side to the dancers, upwards or chest first, or blurry. Usually they’re so open-to-the-audience-face-forward-ly presented. Although the faceless shots were criticised by more than a few onlookers, and there was a wicked whisper doing the rounds that the National Portrait Gallery had refused to hang them, so who knows? Clearly the air-chest-bumps aren’t everyone’s cup o’tea. Or in this case, glass of spumante.