Please enjoy BalletFleming Company Dancer, Gina Battista as she writes about a recent photo shoot with Company Photographer, Brian Mangini. I think you will all find it very insightful.
The Traveling Ballet Master
GINA BATTISTA- A few weeks ago I got the wonderful privilege to work with photographer, Brian Mengini. Ever since moving to Philadelphia, I have heard about his work, and seen great examples of it via facebook, various dance publications and of course on his own blog at WordPress.com In October, Brian worked with us for the Ballet Fleming photo shoot where we focused on fun outfits, innovative poses and photographing through movement—this was really where I decided that I wanted to work with Brian in the future. After seeing the successful pictures for the Ballet Fleming shoot I started paying more attention to Brian’s independent work. I particularly noticed his work for a project called EmpoweredMe, a collection of photos dedicated to the fight against breast cancer. A good friend of mine, and stunning fellow dancer, Jane Koorts, had done the initial shoot with Brian. One day, while checking some of his most recent photos, I noticed a post on facebook, stating that Brian was excited for his last two shoots for EmpoweredMe. Right away I thought does this mean he needs dancers? We exchanged a few messages, where Brian admitted that he was a bit worried that he had already exhausted his own ideas. I understood his point of view but confidently offered some new ones. We decided to try it anyway so we set the time and date.
The day of the shoot. After running around like a chicken with my head cut off to catch the 8:45 train, I made it… and it was running late. Grr. But the train ride gave me time to gather my thoughts and finish touching up some make-up. I had come prepared with two ideas. One supported by an idea of purity; I brought a skin-toned leotard and skirt and to emphasize the theme I pointed my pointe shoes pink… and not just ballet pink either, hot pink! I figured what better way than to show the presence of the pink ribbon symbol than with the ribbons of a pointe shoe? Along with that I brought a few other simple dresses and some pink rose petals.
Brian picked me up at the station and we made our way to the location. Luckily it was beautiful day and the sun was shining through the windows of his studio. As we started the shoot I very quickly realized his initial disclaimer. He had some good ideas and I felt I did too, but once we were done with those (which seemed rather fast) it was kind of a ‘what next?’ feeling. Then we brought out the rose petals, I climbed in the window, almost fell over a few times, cracked a few jokes and before we knew it we had over 100 shots of really creative, different poses. And to be honest they weren’t even poses—I believe that photography is such a beautiful part in the art of dance, but we see too many still moments. I tried to help Brian catch the movement and breath is each position. Now, I know that everything didn’t come out exactly as planned, and that I am definitely not the best model, but I’ve got to say, I think Brian and I surprised each other.
Now that Brian has announced the release of his coffee table book featuring photos from the EmporeredMe series, I am even more excited. Truthfully, I am honored to be one of the dancers in the book, and hope that it can really make an impact. Given the chance, I would definitely work with Brian again. His fresh approach and reputable experiences truly make him a great artist.