Wednesday, 26 January 2011
blue swan / stefan giftthaler
This gorgeous photography is by Stefan Giftthaler, an amazingly talented photographer who has already, although only in his late 20s, had his work appear in many international Vogue, Elle and Glamour magazines. He just takes the most beautiful, dreamy photos and loves to experiment with polaroids, which I guess explains it!
This shoot is called Ballet and is just gorgeous - the quality of the photos almost make the photos look like paintings. I'd love a print of the first and second photos especially!
Have you seen Black Swan yet?
I saw it last weekend - and wow. Just wow. I love dark, twisted films that make you think; and I also love ballet, having danced it (and quite seriously) for many years, which made Black Swan pretty much an ideal combination for me.
For those who haven't seen it yet, it's the story of Nina Sayers, a "sweet and innocent" kind of girl who is a dancer in a ballet company; and, when it's announced that they're putting on Swan Lake. Of course, Swan Lake requires the principal ballerina to dance two swans: the white, pure, good swan and the black, dark, twisted swan. Thomas Leroy, the company's choreographer and by all accounts a bit of an odd character who has taken a bit of a disturbing fancy to Nina, gives her the part, and so ensues Nina's journey to dig past her White Swan exterior and unearth the Black Swan persona that is inside her. And, while I won't give the game away in case anyone hasn't seen it, suffice it to say there are some quite dramatic consequences of her making her Black Swan persona come to the surface, and the film seems to muse not only on the true nature of ballet and what it can do to you, good and bad, but also on coming of age, the influence of others, and so on.
Yes, I think the film was full of cliches; yes, it was all a bit much at times; and yes, it's hard to know whether it's a work of genius or just plain weird (or, I suspect, a bit of both). However, the thing that I loved about this film (and anyone who has danced ballet seriously will be able to agree with me on, I hope) is that it showed some great insights into a dancer's life - good and bad. It showed the extreme dedication to the art form, the way that dancers tolerate their feet being covered in painful blisters (after all, it's to be expected when you're standing on blocks of wood all day, which is what's inside the pointe shoe), and, most of all, the search for perfection. Ballet is horrendously difficult, painful and, in the main, thankless; but, when it eventually goes right, even for a minute, it can give you a euphoric feeling like nothing else. When, after years of practising for hours each day with strict routines and regimes, you can stand in front of the mirror and do pirouette after pirouette without falling over, and you know that you look beautiful - that what you're doing looks elegant and effortless and painless, and more importantly, almost perfect - then it all pays off. And that is what the film captured (albeit quite dramatically); ballet is a discipline, a challenge to make the most difficult balances and positions look simple and natural and graceful, and getting your technique perfect, even for just one small moment after years of practice, really does make it all worth it. I used to call ballet addictive torture, and in all honestly I still stand by that now - and I think Portman captured that phrase quite perfectly in her performance - but I wouldn't trade my time dancing ballet for anything in the world.