“If you can’t dance in it, why wear it?” says California-based Kayla Dickie, whose vintage e-shop Instagram feed features her dancing while wearing her latest finds for sale. Expect to see her boogie to the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” in a white peasant maxi dress and beach hat, or swinging to Dion’s “Runaround Sue” in a ’60s romper skirt. Her thinking? Dancing sparks joy. All her clients are encouraged to share videos where they show off their moves sporting newfound vintage garments.
What do dancers wear out of the studio? was launched in 2018 when Pittsburgh-based Joy-Marie Thompson, a student at the Purchase College dance conservatory, began documenting the outfits of her dancer friends. The account is a carousel of fashion eccentricity: multicolour unitards and wraparound cardigans under dungarees, gym shorts over jeans and a multitude of Adidas trousers. (The phrase “issa look” is an affirmation of good style.) Dancers from all over the world contribute to the feed by submitting their hybrid fashion choices.
Anyone who’s had the pleasure of catching a Momix show may have wondered if they were hallucinating. The company, which defines itself as a group of “dancer-illusionists”, was born under the creative direction of dancer and choreographer Moses Pendleton, whose mission is “using the human body to investigate non-human worlds”. His artists might appear as marigolds blowing in the breeze, fluorescent Aztec shapes or strange primordial creatures, with limbs moving in every direction. This Instagram feed is an incredible trip through Pendleton’s visionary creations.
This feed takes followers on a nostalgic journey through the glory years of dance. Its gems include 1920s cabaret billboards, a black-and-white photo of young Brigitte Bardot en pointe on a Parisian roof, and Edgar Degas’ impressionist scenes of tutu-clad ballerinas in rehearsal. Sylvie Guillem also appears, resting backstage dressed as Giselle, alongside Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen in turquoise feathers, and Diana, Princess of Wales meeting Swan Lake dancers at the Royal Albert Hall in 1997.
“The World of Dance Through A Black Man’s Eyes” – promotes the eponymous not-for-profit platform “for men of colour to showcase their artistry, uplift audiences, and educate others” by challenging widespread dance stereotypes. It does so with a wonderful series of photos and videos capturing dancers of colour on stage, in rehearsal or posing for editorial photoshoots. Among its highlights, the feed also features the first black male principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre in more than two decades.
Created in 2017 by the official photographers of the St Louis Ballet, Kelly Pratt and Ian Kreidich, this feed conjures a dancers-meets-pets world where poodles wear tutus, collies do the pas de deux and classical ballerinas walk greyhounds. “The dogs bring out a different side of dancers that people don’t always get to see – less moody and dramatic, more joyous, and even silly,” the founders say. In 2019, the photo project – which expanded into collaborations with international dancers – was turned into a book.
In tulle skirts and embroidered leotards, even everyday activities appear glamorous. Tyrone Singleton – principal with the Birmingham Royal Ballet – started this feed as an archive for his striking photos, which offer a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes lives of dancers. Here, ballerinas apply mascara in dimly lit changing rooms; dancers stretch; the corps de ballet wait nervously behind drawn curtains; and rehearsing soloists leap gloriously.
A modern-day Degas of sorts, New York-based Dane Shitagi has spent more than 20 years photographing some of the world’s best known ballerinas, including Lauren Cuthbertson, Francesca Hayward and Juliet Doherty. Here, they are found leaping, balancing en pointe and pirouetting against a backdrop of locations ranging from the Golden Gate Bridge to Camden Lock; from a Maui beach to the Champs-Elysées. Shitagi’s immense photo archive can also be appreciated as a coffee-table book, bound in pink satin.