By Mark McConville
AMUSING images have brought together a pairing you never knew you needed – ballet dancers and DOGS.
The stunning pictures show a man balancing on his head while doing the splits as his bemused dog looks on, a fleet-footed dancer leaping in the air as her dog copies her and another using his huge Irish wolfhound to help him stretch.
Other striking shots show a pup leaping through a happy dancer’s arms, a small dog trying to copy a red-dressed ballerina’s tip-toe pose and a tutu-wearing dancer sprinkling some love on her pet dogs.
Hilarious behind-the-scenes footage shows the many mishaps along the way as the excited dogs got to dance with their ballet partners.
The funny photographs form a new book, Dancers & Dogs, that has been put together by St Louis-based professional photographers Kelly Pratt and Ian Kreidich, a husband-and-wife team who work with the Saint Louis Ballet along with dancers around the country.
“Dancers & Dogs shows the more light-hearted, human side of dancers,” the couple said.
“The soul of this book is not about perfection (an idea which can be very hard for ballet dancers).
“It’s about being in the moment and experiencing joy. Because dogs don’t care if you have the highest arabesque or can do 32 perfect fouettes. They just love you as you are.
“Working with dogs is probably the most difficult aspect. While dance photography in itself is difficult, adding dogs into the mix takes everything to a new level. Dance photography is all about timing, and dogs don’t know anything about timing.
“Everything we do has to revolve around the dog’s willingness to do what we are asking. Luckily, no matter what the dogs do, they are always cute.”
The pair said they just had a vision one day: “What if we took pictures of ballet dancers, with dogs?”
While it seemed a strange concept on paper as ballet is often seen as stuffy, moody or unapproachable and dogs are known to be inherently playful and happy, once the couple photographed their first duo they fell in love with the concept.
They have photographed 100 dancers and 100 dogs in more than 10 cities across the country in the span of two and a half years.
The result, they said, demonstrates that you can both bring out the lighter side of dancers while teaching old dogs new tricks.
Some of the proceeds from the book will go to Stray Rescue, a St Louise-based non-profit that is currently at capacity and eager to find homes for living pets ahead of Christmas.
Dancers & Dogs, by Kelly Pratt and Ian Kreidich can be pre-ordered here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dancersanddogs/dancers-and-dogs-the-book