MFA Thesis

‘Off Stage’ explores dance and ballet in particular, from a non-traditional angle.  I delve into the lives of three committed dancers who are still in high school and have dedicated their lives to ballet.  I portray each of them individually, in pairs and in groups, in different settings, both on stage and off, both behind the scenes performing rituals only dancers will recognize and in unusual settings.

When on stage I am capturing each of them performing from the wings and waiting to go on, a viewpoint the regular dance enthusiast does not see.  I explore dance in urban settings, juxta positioning the grace and beauty of each dancer’s body with architecture, graffiti and broken buildings.  Portraying dance in this fashion compliments the grace of it in new ways and demonstrates how strong and athletic each dancer is.

As a dancer and mother of a ballerina memories are driving some of the images I capture.  The viewer will find photographs of details, dressing room chaos and audition readiness. The series is meant to speak to the heart of everyone who has ever been connected to dance, whether as a parent or grand parent, a dancer who had to quit for various reasons, the casual observer who supports this art form by attending performances and the committed athlete and artist who is taking dance to the highest level.

The beauty of ballet affects all of us in different ways and this series speaks to each person differently.  It is my desire to help the viewer understand what kind of commitment it takes to be a strong dancer and that dancers are athletes as well as artists.


Title: Off Stage
Creator: Monika Wertman, 2019