This week I'm beginning work on a fairly large project which has been swimming around in my imagination for quite some time. I've been mulling over the idea of creating photographic artworks inspired by the great ballet stories. In the past, I have made etchings on this theme. Moving from Australia to the UK has been interesting with inspiring places to explore, yet often frustrating at the same time, since there are not enough days where the weather is suitable for shooting outdoors. Trying to line up models to be available on the same day the weather is pleasant is another hurdle!
Recently, I made some portraits of a former dancer. She talked about how watching the ballet Giselle as a small child had influenced her and how that became a favourite role for her to perform. Immediately, a flood of ideas and potential images filled my mind. I could see her in the white romantic tutu, at night, in the woods during winter, with the trees stripped of leaves. Hmmmm, I didn't think she would really enjoy shivering outside in the woods in the middle of winter wearing a delicate Giselle costume. I then began to think of more imaginative ways of combining images of her taken inside with other photographs of symbols from the story. I love the idea of playing with scale and perhaps overlaying bare trees on a silhouette of the dancer, rather than placing the dancer in the woods.
Before Giselle became a ghostly vision, she was a beautiful, young peasant girl, so, I am developing some ideas from Act 1. The story begins in a German peasant village during Autumn. Giselle is crowned Queen of the Vintage for the grape harvest celebrations. In true ballet-story style, she has two men in love with her and by the end of Act 1 she has gone mad with a broken heart. For the full story you can visit this link.
I'm searching through my thousands of photos for images of autumn, grape vines, woods etc. Some of the symbolic elements from the story which I may include are; the daisy which she plucked, grapes, autumn leaves, trees, a path into the woods, symbols of royalty, love, broken heart, youth, beauty, joy, village life, countryside, harvest and Germany among others.
A few years ago I made a Giselle Act 1 costume, it is blue, so I'm considering the colour scheme for the Act 1 photos and will most likely use blue and golden hues since they are complimentary opposites and work nicely together. I want the pictures from Act 1 to contrast in mood and colour with those from the more eerie Act 2.
This is only the very beginning of my research - a few autumnal photos. Here is a link to a Paris Opera Ballet performance of Giselle.