One of the neatest things about my work with Gene Schiavone on our book of dancers' photos and stories has been getting to see the many unpublished, more candid photographs he has from his twenty years embedded with American Ballet Theatre.
Gene's best-known pictures were taken during performances and studio sessions, but he spent just as many, if not more, hours behind the scenes with the company, catching the dancers at rest, at work, goofing around, and all the moments in between. Those images, I think, that can tell us a lot about those artists and what their lives are really like.
When Gene and I first started working on Endless Steps, he showed me piles of pictures of the corps of ABT, many taken from the wings or from above, or in the studio.
As he talked about his sense of connection with those dancers, I began to see that he really understands what so many audiences don't-- that the corps dancers' work is just as hard as the stars', that it's just as pressure-filled and tiring, and that the rewards (and yes, there are many), are much less grand. He spoke with a tone of almost sadness about the fact that most corps dancers put in a lifetime of work in a job for which they receive very little recognition. Most audiences will never know their names, or think of taking the time to find them out.
Gene said to me once, about the corps dancers, "They were anonymous to the audiences, but when I look down the line, I remember every name. I always thought I'd someday do a project honoring them."
Maybe it'll be another Gavin/Gene collab... we'll see! But first, we've got a book to finish.