Ballet Careers

Dancers & Dogs: Your New Favorite Ballet Collaboration

Saint Louis Ballet dancer Kaila Feldspausch and Angus. Photo Courtesy Dancers & Dogs.

Last March photographer Kelly Pratt Kreidich came up with an idea: to photograph dancers and dogs...together. "It all came to me," she says. "I wanted the images to look really clean, simple and lighthearted. And obviously, because it's dogs, kind of silly." And thus, Dancers & Dogs was born.

Based in St. Louis, MO Kreidich and her husband Ian are a husband-and-wife photography team known as Pratt and Kreidich Photography. Four years ago, just for fun, they started taking pictures of a couple of the dancers in the Saint Louis Ballet, and when the company was in need of a Nutcracker photographer, they were hired. Now the duo is responsible for all of SLB's marketing and performance photography. So when Kreidich came up with her vision, she naturally reached out to SLB for dancers. "The company was really receptive to it," she says. "They've even been letting us use their studios."

Finding dogs wasn't quite so easy. "We have certain requirements. They have to be able to sit and stay and behave nicely indoors," says Kreidich. She put out a call to all of her canine-loving friends, promising fine art portraits of the dogs alone if their owners let them pose with the dancers.

SLB dancers Elizabeth Lloyd with Lola and Trooper. Photo Courtesy Dancers & Dogs.


At shoots, the dogs end up leading the show. "We really work with their personalities," says Kreidich. "We go along with what the dogs are able to do and what they like to do. One was able to wear sunglasses, so we were like, 'well we've get to use that.'"

While this is just a pet project (no pun intended) for the Kreidich's, they're working to expand. While much of their following is on Instagram, they have prints are available for sale on their website, as is a 2018 calendar created in collaboration with SLB. But that's not at all. Next they're focused on photographing 100 dancers with 100 dogs, with the goal of creating a book a few years down the road. "We're hoping to expand to other companies in other cities, and also into other types of dance from contemporary to hip hop."


The Dancers & Dogs 2018 calendar. Photo Courtesy Dancers & Dogs.

Ballet Careers
Sisters Isabella Shaker and Alexandra Pullen. Photo Courtesy Alexandra Pullen.

This is the second in a series of articles this month about ballet siblings.

My mom was in the corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre. A generation later, so was I. As if that's not enough for one family, my younger sister Isabella Shaker dreams of following in our dancing footsteps. Her endeavor, and her status as somewhat of a child prodigy, stirs feelings of pride and apprehension within me, since I have lived through the ups and downs of this intense yet rewarding career.

Ballet will always be my first love and the thing that brings me the most joy, and my dance career has opened endless opportunities for me. However, it's a difficult career path that requires a lifelong dedication. It's super competitive and can lead to body image issues, physical injury and stress. Most dancers will face some of these problems; I definitely dealt with all three.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés

For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Jayme Thornton

It's National Bullying Prevention Month—and Houston Ballet breakout star Harper Watters is exactly the advocate young dancers facing bullying need. Watters is no novice when it comes to slaying on social media, but his Bullying Prevention Month collaboration with Teen Vogue and Instagram is him at his most raw, speaking about his own experiences with bullies, and how his love of dance helped him to overcome adversity. Watters even penned an incredible op-ed for Teen Vogue's website, where he talks candidly about growing up queer. Catch his amazing anti-bullying video here—and, as Watters says, "Stay fabulous, stay flawless, stay flexible, but most importantly, stay fearless."

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News
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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