The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has not been kind to artists and performers. With theaters, museums, galleries, and studios closed, those who depend on ticket sales to stay in operation — such as ballet companies — are taking a major hit. Many ballet dancers don't know when they'll see another paycheck, and fashion photographer Craig McDean wants to remind people of that fact. In a new creation for British Vogue, which dropped on Aug. 11, McDean filmed a four-minute black-and-white video of four out-of-work dancers performing in face masks on the quite-barren streets of New York City. The video was a collaboration with his partner Masha Vasyukova and their company Spoon Films, and the result is truly heart-wrenching.
The four New York City Ballet dancers — Emma Von Enck, Eliza Blutt, Jonathan Fahoury, and India Bradley — kick off the video by telling the camera the date they had their last show before the outbreak shut down New York's performance venues. For most of them, their last performance took place in late February or early March. After this introduction, the four company members freestyle dance throughout the city's SoHo neighborhood, interacting as they pass one another. The video concludes with close-up shots of each dancer, and their faces express all the pain of not being able to perform on a stage.
According to McDean, his usual medium simply wouldn't do the dancers justice. "Dance is so fluid and it's so emotional," the photographer explained to Vogue. "And I wanted to capture it in film, not just on stills." When asked what he hoped people would take away from the short film, he said he wanted the dancers' passion for dance to shine through, despite the trying circumstances. " . . . these dancers have the passion to still carry on through the hard times we're living in," he said. Check out the full film above to see what he means.