“Swans in the Mist” was taken 1100 rolls of film earlier than the backstage “Swan Lake” photograph I posted two weeks ago (PBG 100 #1). This picture was taken in December, 1988 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA, where Baryshnikov’s “Swan Lake” premiered. I can tell by the angle of the photograph it was shot during a performance, so I had already photographed the dress rehearsals and was prepared to capture the moment. It’s the beginning of Act IV. The curtain rises to a fog covered stage which slowly dissipates to reveal the hidden sleeping swans. This picture is the moment before they awake and begin to dance.
Even though I photographed “Swan Lake” dozens of times afterwards, I never captured an image like it again. The flow of the fog was different in every theater where the ballet was performed. My shooting angle changed from place to place. I had so many chances at the Metropolitan Opera House but could never capture a better image. God knows I tried!
It’s something you learn after many years of photography. There are just some things as a photographer over which you have no control. I can photograph the same dancers performing the same ballet in the same theater but each time the pictures are different. In a way it’s what makes photographing dance so exciting. No matter how much you know it’s always a surprise.