International Dance Photographer Nikki Roberts (Nikita Alba) is working with Dancers and leading dancewear brands across the UK & Europe. Nikki’s highly acclaimed work has been published in Dancing Times, Dance Europe, Inside Dance Magazine and many other leading dance publications worldwide.
Nikita Alba was also awarded 1st prize winner of Ballet Magazine Romania’s “Photographer of the Year” in the “PROFESSIONAL BALLET PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST, 2021 EDITION” project, and most recently, she kindly accepted to be one of the jury members in the “BALLERINAS IN RED, 2022 EDITION” photo contest, the most prestigious international ballet photography competition.
Nikita Alba was awarded 1st prize winner of Ballet Magazine Romania’s “Photographer of the Year” in the “Professional Ballet Photography 2021” project
Following this successfully experience, she kindly agreed to share some of his thoughts of being a international renewed professional ballet photographers, with Ballet Magazine ballet lovers community, that you can find below. Also we are gladly invite you to find her very professional work on www.nikitaalba.com
Who is Nikita Alba? Please, introduce yourself in a few words.
My name is Nikki Roberts (Nikita Alba is the Spanish translation of my first and middle name. At the time I moved into Dance photography I was living in Spain and it just sounded so much prettier.) I’m originally from London where I trained as a dancer. After having my kids and moving to Europe I delved deeper into the world of photography and after much self-study and exploration, I am now very lucky to get to do it professionally.
Why ballet photography? Was it your first choice?
I always enjoyed photography and I got my first camera when I was just a kid. Dance was definitely my first love so it seemed the most natural transition to merge my two passions together. My dance experience enables me to understand the importance and beauty of a Dancer’s lines and my strong sense of timing gives me the ability to know when to get the shot, how to stop it from being flat, and to capture the essence of movement in a still image.
What is, in your opinion, the most important thing in dance photography, generally speaking, and in ballet photography, in particular? The model, the context, the movement?
I would say for any photo the most important thing is to feel something. With ballet, it’s complicated because it depends very much on who the viewer is. If the photo is for an audition then you have to take it with consideration for the eye of the company director; lines, technique, presence & confidence. When the shot is for personal use I think a little imperfection is better, to demonstrate personality, fragility, honesty, and character. I love to use fabrics and I thrive on drama. Sometimes falling out of a pose is so much more interesting than a perfectly held one.
What would be your advice for a young ballerina who needs a portfolio? There is a secret to success?
Be yourself, know your limitations, and practice poses and jumps that you can be confident with. Sometimes dancers come into my studio with photos of principal dancers saying they want to get a shot like that but it’s not always realistic. The other thing is to research your photographer in advance, do they understand the technical aspects of dance. With photography it’s often about the right angle – what might be the perfect position in a ballet studio may not transfer for the camera, especially when shooting from low (favorable for lengthening the legs). The angle we shoot at can affect the correct alignment of the arms and foot arch lines. With audition photos, this could mean the difference between getting the job or losing it to a less-abled dancer with better photos. I also recommend giving a shoot time. you’d be surprised how little confidence some of these young dancers have. Dance training is a very critical environment and so it can take time to develop confidence and an atmosphere of trust between the photographer and the model. I always give time for conversation and getting to know each other before shooting because only in a space of trust and openness can any magic happen.
If you should present three ballet photos representative for you, except the ones submitted in the contest, which will be?
I love to shoot on location and also in theatres for live performances and backstage candid captures. However, most of my work this past year, due to travel restrictions, has been shot in my studio. Here are 3 that I think represent well the attention to aesthetic lines, technique and drama!
How important are contests for you? Do you think that the ”Professional Ballet Photography Contest”, organized by Ballet Magazine and which is at its second edition, helps to the popularity of that form of art?
In an age of fast scrolling and short attention spans, today’s photographer does not always get the deserved recognition for the work they are producing. I think that this competition is a great way to give attention to and raise awareness for the people behind the camera, the artists responsible for many of the images that we share on Instagram and other social media sites. The arts (dancers, musicians, painters, creators, etc) need as much love as possible right now. Every year it seems to be harder for us with cuts in funding by governments and of course Covid19! This competition raises awareness and cultivates community. It’s definitely not about the prize for me, it’s about so much more than that. Thank you Ballet Magazine Romania!