Ballerinas are all the rage at the moment. Black Swan, New York Times critic Alastair Maccaulay stating that one dancer, Jenifer Ringer, “eaten one sugar plum too many” for a recent production of the Nutcracker. And now Joe McNally, famed photographer, comes to her defense.
Joe took portraits of Jenifer with a giant, 40×80 Polaroid camera on his own dime. He knew she possessed the poise and grace to keep her composure for the length of time needed to get a decent shot.
You also could not focus the camera. You had to focus your subject. Small shuffles back and forth would place them in that tiny zone of critical sharpness. Then they had to hold that position for about 30 seconds while the interior workings of the camera got spooled up, the lights got shut, and the flash fired. Not easy to do. Especially on point.
But Joe recognizes an artist whose body is their art.
It’s been equally wonderful to watch from afar as she has fought through personal struggles, dropped out of dance for a while, and then returned to the stage as a principal dancer. She has always talked straight up about the life of a ballerina, and her struggles with her weight. Her talent and candor, I feel, make her a beacon in the dance world, which prefers to keep the pain, the anorexia, the sweat and the tears behind the curtain. Ballerinas look amazing on stage. Offstage, their bodies can be just as beat up as an NFL offensive lineman.