Male Ballet Dancers

Ballerinas are ready subjects for blockbusting movies and bestselling biographies: Now, male dancers, too, are having a moment—one that we hope sparks a trend. In his new photography book, Les Danseurs, Matthew Brookes focuses his lens on men of the Paris Opéra Ballet. In powerfully composed black and white photos, Brookes highlights the strength of male dancers, but also a vulnerability and artistry that’s often overshadowed by luminous images of swans and sleeping beauties.

For much of dance history, male dancers were basically the forklifts of ballet, there to lift the women, and do little else. But it takes much more than a sturdy set of biceps to hack it in 2013. Today's men are given some of the most exciting choreography in the repertoire. Dancemakers are taking full advantage of that male strength, having the men perform mind-boggling turns and gravity-defying leaps.