How to photograph music? That was the first question I asked myself before I started to work on this series.
I never was so much of a dance enthousiast but I have always been intrigued and attracted by classic dancers. Is it because their tutu looks like a corset and a skirt which are very feminine? Or because the outfit make the dancer’s legs appear longer and gives the impression they are flying with wings when they dance with so much grace?
This project was born when I wanted to try and capture movement in order to combine it with the grace of dancers and the beauty of models. I thought it could make such a sight for sore eyes. These silhouettes make a fascinating subject as much for our human eyes, as for camera lenses.Talking about this project of mine, an actress I often work with told me she was a former ballet dancer and she still had some of her tutus sleeping somewhere in her attic. I seezed that opportunity to revive them, put them back where they belong, in the spotlight ; and they thanked me by doing half of the work and giving me a color code for the few shootings to come. White, black, purple, pink. I could work around these themes to imagine the pictures I wished to paint.
I first thought about going through the four seasons but did not because that is probably what I would have done with only one dancer and one outfit. Still I used the two most colorful seasons, Autumn and Spring, since I couldn’t resist to play with the warm colors of my favorite one, and use a very specific place near Paris which spouts an ancestral japanese feeling every year at early spring. So I started my dance project in Autumn with Cécile, an actual ballet dancer who came with her own outfits. The plan was to use the morning light to enhance the subject and give an almost mystical light to the dancer, which gives her an angelic look.
Then Brianna, a new yorker model, contacted me because she had made a nice head piece and she wanted to immortilize it. As it was white, I combined it with the white outfit and training tutu. It was winter and the light was very poor so I used studio lights for the color pictures and natural light only for the black and white ones. I usually prefer to work with natural light, but most of the time, winter in Paris doesn’t give you much choice as for interior shootings.
For the black series, I thought about working essentially with black and white, therefore I used a colorless environment to underline the tutu. The interesting fact about this shooting is it was Aline’s very first one, a young pharmacist who recently moved from western France to the capital city. Her slim figure and long black hair because of asian ancestors help very much in giving the iconic outfit a noticable identity. Being neither a dancer nor a model, it brings a different look to the series which totally fits the black color as in the black sheep of the herd.
To pursue in giving every shooting a look and mood of its own, I worked with Albertina, a croatian modern dancer. This shooting breaks the codes and harmonious lines of the previous ones, and I really thought about including it to the ensemble, but the whole series is dedicated to music and movement, not just restricted to ballet dance. I had the wish to remain open minded. And even if I feel less connected to modern dance, I find the shapes and lines very interested to work with. Obviously, the feeling and energy are totally different. They are more direct, impressive, almost masculine. But the straightforward dynamic and harsh angles, is also very affiliated to music. Music is life, and life is sometimes quite agressive. So to balance and reconnect with the series debut, what other color than pink to get back to a softer, more feminine, and as sweet as a candy taste?
The red head and pale skin Manon allowed me to marry the pink tutu with the first lights of spring. Thus, she looks pure like a fresh spring being born when winter leaves. Once a year, there is a popular and revered celebration in Japan which comes along the blossom of sakuras, the cherry trees. South of Paris, in the parc de Sceaux, you can experience such a wonder, or at least get a glimpse of it, for a couple of weeks in March and April. That is precisely where I decided the pink tutu shooting would take place. Both model and background look like a fairy tale which calls for more colors. Which is precisely what Stefania brings in her purple outfit. Both subjects then look like dolls celebrating life in harmony. At last, I wanted to express a sense of freedom with Roxane, while wearing just a simple piece of fabric she enjoys this special state of mind flying over a lake. This would bring the final touch to the series but I hope, not to my collaboration with music and dance. MUA/Stylist: Stefania Zaikina | Models:Autumn: Cècile | Winter White: Brianna | Black: Aline | Modern: Albertina | Spring Pink: Manon & Stefania (Purple) | Free: Roxane
About Matthieu Colnat
Artistic soul since his youngest years, Matthieu Colnat first expressed himself at school with drawing before studying cinema, with an image specialisation.Graduating from ESRA Paris 15, he directed then a handful of short films which have been participated and got rewarded in international festivals. Afterwards, he became an artistic director keeping a close eye on photography which he eventually went back to. Born in 1979, Matthieu lives currently in Paris, France. [Official Website]