From rehearsal bloopers to tour shots, Instagram gives us an unprecedented glimpse into the lives of the dancers we love. Now, three pros are taking it to the next level. American Ballet Theatre soloist Cassandra Trenary, Royal Ballet first soloist Marcelino Sambé and New York City Ballet corps dancer Devin Alberda have created Instagram accounts dedicated to highlighting their more serious interest in photography, while giving viewers an intimate peak at the candid moments that make up company life.
Marcelino Sambé: @royalballetbymarci
Marcelino Sambé has always loved creating; with interests in writing and painting, he sees photography as his newest outlet. He started his account, @royalballetbymarci, last November, and says he uses it to "photograph extraordinary people doing very human things." Sambé spent his first two seasons with the company focused inwardly on his own progress, but this year he turned his gaze outward towards his colleagues, and felt inspired to start this project. Though Sambé was recently gifted a camera, he's still relying on his iPhone. "The Royal Ballet dancers are surrounded by the most talented and well equipped dance photographers in the world, so when I started snapping them in a more casual way, the instrument that looked less official was my iPhone," he says. "I feel like I can be more incognito, and truly catch some raw moments."
To that end, Sambé relies on the mutual sense of trust that he feels with his colleagues. "It's like I'm enriching my relationship with my friends," he says. "There is a level of ease that I can only capture because I'm one of them, living and breathing the same story."
Cassandra Trenary: @pearltakespics
Cassandra Trenary found her way to old fashioned film photography last year, when a friend gifted her a 1959 Nikon F. She brought it on a trip abroad, and fell in love. "It weighs a ton, but that is one of my favorite things about it," she says. "It's entirely manual. I love not knowing what is going to come out the way I'd hoped, and what doesn't. There have been quite a few happy accidents." Trenary has now broadened her scope to a second film camera, a Minolta X-700 that her dad gave her, and alternates between the two. She gets her film developed in SoHo, and posts the shots onto her account @pearltakespics.
Trenary shoots mostly with black and white film, but sneaks in some color shots as well. Her photos focus mostly on her ABT colleagues, showing intimate moments backstage and close-ups of makeup and costumes.
Devin Alberda: @devinalberda
Devin Alberda first gained public recognition for his Instagram photography in 2014. He uses his iPhone to capture behind-the-scenes images posted to his account, @devinalberda. Recently, Alberda has tended to post slideshows of roughly seven photos showing the vivid chaos of pre-performance preparations or candid shots of his NYCB colleagues in class. "I just love documenting my day, capturing all the beauty in between the grit of preparation and the glory of the stage," he says. "I'm not interested in the fetishized lines of high-res ballet photography."
Alberda aims to show the beauty of moment, rather than poses, and has developed techniques to show bodies in motion. "I figured out that if I panned with a subject as they moved, I could freeze them in active motion," he says. Like Trenary, he refers to some of his favorite pictures as "happy accidents."