Award-winning Aerial Photographer Brad Walls has teamed up with The English National Ballet to create a unique photographic series shot from above. The photoshoot took place at the newly designed English National Ballet studio in Canning Town, North London and features six of the English National Ballet’s Corp de Ballet dancers.
Walls’ goal for the project was to disrupt traditional ballet photography, shifting its focus from individual dancers to the ballet corp. He believes that the beauty of ballet lies in its delicacy and teamwork rather than focusing on a singular dancer in a dramatic pose. Using only a drone, Walls created a series of 14 images that emphasize harmonious shapes and patterns captured from a height of 5-10 meters above the ground.
Before the shoot, Walls sketched his ideas on his iPad, dedicating weeks to researching ballet poses on Pinterest and figuring out how to integrate them into his compositions. Everyday items were also a source of inspiration for the artist. For instance, the image ‘Hanging Teacups’ was conceptualized the night before the shoot when Walls stayed at an Airbnb in London.
“I stayed in an Airbnb in London that had coffee mugs displaying on wall hooks,” he explains. “The way they were hanging reminded me of the 4th position in ballet.”
Walls’ trademark techniques, symmetry, and geometry can be seen throughout the series, most prominently in the image ‘Hibiscus.’ He notes that geometry hints at consistency in an ever-inconsistent world. He believes as humans, we are naturally drawn towards this ‘order over chaos’ effect, him perhaps even more so.
Brad’s previous works, such as “Pools from Above” and “Vacant“, display similar themes. The ballet series is very much in keeping with Brad’s overall style, paying acute attention to detail and obvious admiration for the subject matter.
The series is exquisitely beautiful, not least for its economy in composition and use of negative space. The plain grey backgrounds are almost reminiscent of concrete, which again serves as a juxtaposition to the richness of the dance’s history and aesthetic.
One of the dancers, Anna-Babbete, described the photoshoot experience: “Ballet is not usually viewed from above. I remember the drone humming over our heads and thinking, ‘Oh my, what is this angle going to look like?'”
Walls intends to feature this series, along with other photoshoots from the New York City Ballet and Australian Ballet, in a coffee table book in 2024. The series is a testament to Walls’ creative vision and ability to capture stunning and unique perspectives. The collaboration between Walls and The English National Ballet has resulted in a truly one-of-a-kind photographic series showcasing ballet’s beauty from a fresh and exciting perspective.