The Russian dancer Andrej Uspenski who is a First Artist at the Royal Ballet began taking photographs of his colleagues about two years ago. Now his coffee-table book of photographs, Dancers: Behind the Scenes with the Royal Ballet, which is published next month, gives an insider's view of the Royal Ballet.
While many photos reveal dancers attending morning classes, rehearsals and performing on stage, other more off-duty shots are more interesting. Tamara Rojo is carrying a large bundle of dresses to a rehearsal for Marguerite and Armand with her partner Sergei Polunin. “She is smiling because Sergei turned up with no costumes. We have to be familiar with ballerinas' costumes, but it doesn't usually matter what the male dancers wear,” says Uspenski. In another, Carlos Acosta, Alexander Agadzhanov and Natalia Osipova peep through the red curtain to see if the audience have left. Romany Pajdak has put her legs up while resting in between The Nutcracker; Valentino Zucchetti has crashed out with his head resting on a table in his messy dressing room; and Elsa Goddard is grabbing some sunshine on a bench on the terrace at the Royal Opera House in a break.
Uspenski, who joined the Royal Ballet 10 years ago, says being a dancer definitely helps his photography. “I know when it's the best moment.”
'Dancers: Behind the Scenes with the Royal Ballet' is published by Oberon Books on 2 April