Mariinsky ballet dancers as never seen before (PHOTOS)

Valentin Perelmuter
Since the 1970s, photographer Valentin Perelmuter has been taking pictures for St. Petersburg’s leading ballet company. Here are his most extraordinary photos.

Photographer Valentin Perelmuter joined Leningrad's Kirov (Mariinsky) Opera and Ballet Theater in 1977. He was invited by the then artistic director and ballet master Oleg Vinogradov to create a visual brand of the world famous ballet. Perelmuter dedicated 20 years to photographing the Mariinsky ballet company, which included international tours to Japan (1979), France (1983), the U.S. and Canada (1992).

As a ballet community insider, Perelmuter had unlimited and exceptional opportunities for taking pictures both on and off the stage. He had very close and trusting relationships with the dancers, and he made portraits of the lead dancers. At the same time, however, he extensively filmed the corps de ballets in the classrooms, showing the dancers’ daily routine of hard work. After taking pictures, Perelmuter later experimented in the darkroom, and was one of the first to do multi-exposure and pioneering photomontage.

Irina Kolpakova was Mariinsky's prima ballerina for several decades, 1977

Galina Mezentseva was famous for her talent at improvisation, 1978

Classic. Ballerina Galina Mezentseva, 1980s

Self-portrait with the leading Mariinsky ballerina Tatiana Terekhova, 1984 

Tatiana Terekhova in action, 1984

Prima ballerina Olga Chenchikova, 1984

Future ballet star, Ulyana Lopatkina, as the white and black swan, 1991

The Wilis (or ‘Giselle’), 1991

Principal dancer Farukh Ruzimatov, 1994

After the third bell, 1992

Yulia Makhalina as the swan, 1993

Generations, 2001

Future ballet stars, 2001

An exhibition of photographs by Valentin Perelmuter will be on display at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg until July 28, 2022.

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