Light As Air

Split-second timing and senses of humor keep these men airborne.
Published in the August/September 2005 issue.

Although John Andresen is a dancer with the Norwegian National Ballet, his first love has always been photography. “I have been taking pictures longer than I have danced,” he says. “I wanted to go to a high school where I could study photography. My second choice was the state ballet school. I ended up there.”

When asked to do a project that would feature the men of the Royal Swedish Ballet a few years ago, Andresen came up with the idea of a calendar that would show off all the grace and agility of the company’s men. The first calendar featured the men flying through the air—in their underwear, as did the second. They were both huge successes in Sweden.

“My photos are very inspired by the famous Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland,” says Andresen. Perhaps in spirit, but Vigeland’s monumental granite sculptures of human figures are the opposite of Andresen’s action-packed photographs of dancers in flight. The photos are staged in a dance studio, so there’s no worry about the hours of jumping needed to coordinate his carefully composed midair shots.

The 2006 American Ballet Theatre calendar, featuring Angel Corella, is his second with those dancers. But Andresen has no plans to stop. “I would love to do a calendar with The Royal Ballet in London and the Paris Opera—and Béjart Ballet in Lausanne….”