Omar Z. Robles is a photographer with a background in mime performance, which helped to inspire a series of photographs where he captures the elegance and beauty of ballet in the grimy urban setting on the streets of New York.
The contrast is amazing, as ballet dancers are snapped in various poses to create stunning portraits of their moves, except there is no grandiose setting or stage for them, just the realistic streets of a city, featuring puddles, traffic lights, pedestrians, and phone boxes – everyday things you would expect to find wandering down the streets.
As Robles explains in an interview, “Like mime theater, photography [is] an amazing nonverbal communication medium…Yet it allowed [me] to capture fleeting emotions and tell a story for a much longer time than mime theater could.”
He goes into detail regarding how ballet dancers make the perfect candidate for this, “Ballet dancers make us feel as if their movements were truly effortless. This while pushing their bodies to the very extreme of what is humanly possible. It is that grace and elegance which mesmerizes us.”
Robles used a variety of conditions and settings for his photographs, including during rainfall, which helps to create another mesmerising visual to the already striking images.
He worked closely together with dancers from the American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ballet Concierto De Puerto Rico, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre to name a few.