The March issue of Bazaar hits newsstands on February 16h and today the magazine released stills of its photoshoot with American Ballet Theatre’s Principal Dancer Misty Copeland. The shoot is a Degas redux bringing some of the artist’s most famous work to life with Copeland wearing Alexander Mc Queen, Valentino, Roberto Cavalli, Alberta Ferretti and Oscar de la Renta.
The re-creations are executed in stunning detail, but what stuck out to me was the level of control Copeland carried within each frame. Creative control in editorial fashion photography revolves around the photographer, the editor and the creative director. In this particular shoot we see the creative fluidity among all of the above and Copeland. She’s directing each shot with a kinetic force that virtually transforms each frame.
The photos that recreate Degas are beautifully constrained. In the Bazaar piece, Copeland reflected on the subtle challenges that came with replicating the precision of the movements in the painting while curbing her urge to improvise and interpret the piece to suit her artistic voice (voice=movement). In the photos where she is given more creative latitude with movement, the shot virtually sings.
While I could spend all day lauding her much deserved, hard earned accomplishments as the the first African American Principal at the ABT, I want to take a moment to celebrate her artistic sensibilities in collaborative photography (I just made that term up). As a muse, she is a photographer’s dream- I believe that is because she carries an innate ability to bring out the very best of every shot taken of her in motion.
The “Artist a Day Challenge” celebrates Black History Month by highlighting Black artists and diverse forms of cultural expression across the African diaspora.
Postscript: For more photography by Ken Browar and Deborah Ory, please check out NYC Dance Project, it is a brilliant and stunning blend of photography and dance that is “collaborative photography” (I’m going to try to make this term happen) at its best.