EPITOMISING THE MEANING OF MALE BEAUTY AND STRENGTH, THESE YOUNG MALE BALLERINOS EVOKE EMOTION AND CREATE POETRY THROUGH MOVEMENTS OF THEIR BODY WITH THE PERFECT POINTED TOE NO LESS, AS A NEW BOOK BY PHOTOGRAPHER MATTHEW BROOKES DOCUMENTS IT ALL.
photographed by MATTHEW BROOKES + words by IEVAN DARWIN
Remember Billy Elliot? The heartwarming film released at the turn of the millennium, about a coal miner’s son who stumbled into the world of ballet. It broke the stereotypes of male ballet dancers. It went on to inspire many musicals around the world, one of which still runs in the West End of London today. Male ballet dancers are beginning to receive much recognition in the world of fashion with designers such as Dolce & Gabbana taking a liking for the art. They have been taking inspiration from male ballet dancers and opera in their collections, notably their Alta Moda collection that featured the dancer Roberto Bolle. Ballerinos exude poise and strength with a Adonis physiques that are born only from the many years of training. Not only are they agile, but their lithe and well-proportioned bodies are works of art. The beauty of the male ballet dancer has been immortalised by famed photographer Mathew Brookes in his new book “Les Danseurs” that focuses on capturing the unique forms of Parisian male dancers — 20 members of the Paris Opera Ballet to be exact. They are seen twisting, bending and turning mid-air, all being captured in movement to show the beauty and dynamism of ballet. Shot in black and white, these images are extremely intimate and hold the raw energy of these dancers. You can clearly feel the intensity from just a simple pointed toe to contorted torsos as these dancers leap and twist in an all manners. Clad in just black tights with just a clear, plain backdrops, the clear intention of Brooke’s book is to highlight the incredible physique and athleticism of ballet. Having taken a year to photograph these dancers, Brookes photographed them in raw spaces under natural daylight both indoors and outdoors. He allowed the dancers to explore the physicality of dance in its purest form. It’s about the soul of the dancers rather then just pure movements and these unassuming young men evoke awe with every movement. In the photos, the dancers are depicting birds falling from the sky as Brookes captures the fleeting moments of dance. He has been able to capture the intensity of the dance by focusing on the strength of ballet from the amazing muscles and body structures, all thanks to hours upon hours of training. Brookes has been able to portray these dancers not just solely as dancers, but as athletes. He provided a new way of looking at the dance while challenging the notion of ballet as a female pursuit. The photographic style seen in Brooke’s imagery is easily recognisable in the pages of fashion magazines where he enjoys provoking his subject’s natural raw emotion in each shot. The British born photographer who grew up in South Africa and now based in Paris has been a fixture in the fashion photography scene, having shot editorials for the likes of Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ and many more. He has also shot campaigns for notable brands such as Berluti, Z Zegna, Burberry and Cartier, to name just a few. His new book “Les Dansuers” is the first time he has published a book solely featuring his personal work and will be released in September 2015.