Image: Andy Batt

OREGON BALLET THEATRE turns twenty this year. I’ve been working with them since 2003, creating much of the photography for their posters, ads, brochures, and programs. Three years ago, OBT offered me a backstage pass and the opportunity to photograph during performances. I began to understand the dancers’ movements and how physical and intense their art is. The dancers float, spin, glide—right up to the point where they disappear from the audience’s sight. Backstage, they become real again: breathing hard and recovering so that they can go right back out with just as much power. They are as athletic as any runner or basketball or soccer player I have ever photographed, if not more so.

This essay is about the dancers, not the dance, the private moments between performances. —Andy Batt