Photographing The Joffrey Ballet

August 31, 2012
Christpher Duggan


Last week marked the end of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival’s 80th Anniversary, and I found myself scrambling from one dress rehearsal to the other trying to squeeze in documentation of both main stage performances. I was so excited/nostalgic about the fact that this is the last week of the summer, and I wanted to capture it all.

I loved The Joffrey Ballet‘s program. They danced Bells by former Bolshoi Ballet dancer and San Francisco Ballet choreographer Yuri Possokhov, Age of Innocence by Edwaard Liang, and Son of Chamber Symphony, a world premiere by Stanton Welch. It’s always exciting to photograph a world premiere. My photos will be the first ones showcasing the new dance, and it makes me nervous and psyched.

This idea is amplified at Jacob’s Pillow where world-renowned companies perform on a world stage. It’s a big deal to premiere work at the Pillow. All eyes are here. I knew the company wanted approval of the images before they were given to the press, so I wanted to be sure I delivered both quality and quantity. I made a larger number of photographs than I typically do at dress rehearsal, and prepared and edited the photos for use within hours. It’s a lot of pressure to photograph for press use, but it’s something I’ve grown used to in the fast-paced world of performance documentation.

I had a great time with The Joffrey. The dancers were so talented, and the tutus in Stanton Welch’s new work were exquisite and especially fun to photograph.