Smoking Ballerinas is definitely one of my favourite photographs George Simhoni has ever taken. There is a delicate and also ironic honesty that speaks to most viewers, especially those who’ve had the pleasure of spending a few good years in a pair of point slippers. Youch!!!
George tells such wonderful stories through his photography. Typically, I let my imagination answer any questions I have lingering about, but for this particular favourite of mine, I wanted to know more.
Take it away George…
As part of my overall project in Russia I had this image etched into my mind for several years. From a time when I did a shoot for American Airlines in the middle of winter. We hired a troupe of ballerinas to act out swan lake. In the breaks, they would go outside to smoke. It was really cold. Here was a scene of ballerinas dressed in their costume, tutus and all, with boots over their shoes and coats over their shoulders smoking. They are a hardy lot.
I had a local producer that I hired with the intention of introducing me to different scenarios I had in my mind to produce. Alexander was a part time local news announcer as well so he was somewhat a known figure. He contacted the ballet company in St Petersburg to ask this request. We met the head of the ballet, he liked my portfolio of work and he was willing to play along. He donated the whole theatre as well as their wardrobe department for a day.
We did many different images but this is the one I had envisioned for so long. We were introduced to the troupe of dancers to select my choices. The rest was easy thanks to the company. Alex did all the translating as I posed them by showing how they should stand and physically moving them as they stood still.
Neither were smokers at the time, but both were past smokers.
Expedited Visa $400
Travel and Vehicles $100
Ballerina Talent: $400
Make-Up & Wardrobe
Retouching by Mark Tyler of STIR