The word “ballet” may immediately evoke images of delicate, precise figures twirling in tutus of white and pink. However, that archetypal costume dates only to the Romantic period, perhaps 200 years ago, a fraction of ballet’s five centuries of history. The Romantic ballet of the early 1800’s, epitomized in classics such as Swan Lake, emphasized fantastic themes, evanescent fairies marking the first appearances of pointe shoes and tutus, “the woman reduced to a pure spirit, all white, Venustic, body sublimated and free from gravity.”
So what, my darlings, does this prosaic imagery have to do with today’s ghostly header image? Meet the English National Ballet. Under artistic director Tamara Rojo, they are actively campaigning to change public perception of ballet from fragile music box figurines to something more primal, capturing the gritty heart of expression at the center of the dance. With the accompanying film Hallowed by Chris Turner, the still images above and in the gallery below are from a English National Ballet editorial with Twenty6 Magazine. Photographed by Charl Marais, the dancers are dark, primal, weaving together in an modern danse macabre inspired by classical notions of Heaven and Hell. Give this one a watch, lovies, if the visions that dance through your head are a bit more ghoulish than any Sugar Plum Fairy could ever be.