Gene Schiavone Ballet Photography

Capturing magical moments

Photography has always been an important part of my life. I became interested in it as a child and was amazed that I could just snap the shutter and capture an image. I have had no formal training. As a boy I experimented with my father’s camera, read books on darkroom techniques and generally annoyed people with my persistence in trying to take their picture.

Throughout my business career I continued to explore photography by attending workshops and studying the work of a diverse group of photographers such as Scavullo, Irving Penn, Horst, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Helmut Newton.

Fast forward to about 1995. My wife had been involved with ABT for many years during which time I acquired only a mild interest in ballet. I didn’t enjoy having to attend functions with her and was reluctant to converse with strangers on topics in which I was uninformed.

That all changed when I was seated next to Julie Kent at a reception. I enjoyed the conversation and the fear of this mysterious art form slowly lifted. She was a real person who just happened to dance on her toes. That meeting piqued my interest and caused me to attend more performances and I was drawn in as I became familiar with more of the dancers.

At that same time, the ABT® Studio Company was touring and I was given permission to photograph their performances. It was great traveling with these kids and the experience provided the necessary time to develop the skill required to shoot fast movement mostly in low light. After two years I was invited to photograph the main company, which led to other requests for similar work.

I do photography work for many ballet companies including Boston Ballet, Mariinsky Theatre, Bolshoi Ballet, Washington Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and The Radio City Rockettes among others. My images are regularly published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and all the major dance publications both here and abroad.

Having had the privilege of photographing many of the worlds most noted dancers, my personal goal is to expand that body of work and in some small way leave tangible evidence of the beauty they created.

Looking at a photograph is different from watching a performance. The camera freezes a moment in time that immediately becomes the past. It preserves an instant that is usually not evident to the audience who is watching the dancer pass through it. I’m happy to be able to preserve some of these moments.

My favorite classical ballet to shoot is “Swan Lake”. It’s very difficult due to the “dramatic lighting” but rewarding if you’re able to capture the emotion. To me, a good image is one in which you can hear the music.

In March 2020, I announced my retirement from studio photography. I want to sincerely thank all the dancers I’ve worked with over the years. I do have hundreds of pairs of signed shoes and photos to remember you by. Perhaps one day I’ll publish some of my studio work and the amazing dancers I’ve captured.

I continue to book professional ballet and opera performances.

Performance Photography

Principal Dancers Photographed
Natalia Osipova, Royal Ballet
Maria Kochetkova, San Francisco Ballet
Alina Cojocaru, English National Ballet
Diana Vishneva, Mariinsky Ballet, ABT
Hee Seo, ABT
Irina Dvorovenko, ABT
Daniil Simkin, ABT
Igor Kolb, Mariinsky
Ivan Vasiliev, Mariinsky
Alessandra Ferri, ABT
Ulyana Lopatkina, Mariinsky Ballet

Julie Kent, ABT
Paloma Herrera, ABT
Polina Semionova, ABT
Svetlana Zakharova, Bolshoi Ballet
Maria Alexandrova, Bolshoi Ballet
Ekaterina Krysanova, Bolshoi Ballet
Ekaterina Shipulina, Bolshoi Ballet
Ulyana Lopatkina, Mariinsky Ballet
Herman Cornejo, ABT
Roberto Bolle, La Scala, ABT
Marcelo Gomes, ABT

Alina Somova, Mariinsky Ballet
Viktoria Tereshkina, Mariinsky Ballet
Ekaterina Kondaurova, Mariinsky Ballet
David Hallberg, ABT, Bolshoi

Ballet Companies Photographed
American Ballet Theatre
Boston Ballet
Mariinsky Ballet
Bolshoi Ballet
Radio City Rockettes
Miami City Ballet
Indianapolis City Ballet

Youth America Grand Prix
Paul Taylor Dance Company
The Sarasota Ballet
Czech National Ballet
Mark Morris Dance Group
Martha Graham Dance Company

Read Testimonials

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  • In Gene's photographs I always feel his love for the art of the ballet and the dancers he photographs. Among many people who photograph rehearsals or performances there are very few real masters who can show the beauty and pureness of dance. When Gene works I never feel distracted. In fact it's always fascinating - I never see him but later I receive beautiful photographs. I always hope he is the one selected to photograph me in the studio or onstage.
    Diana Vishneva
    Diana Vishneva
  • Having a deep love and understanding of ballet, Gene always photographs the Bolshoi in a very special way. I shall never forget your photo session of Corsair as your pictures manage to capture not only the beauty of human bodies, ballet movement and group's choreographic architectonic, but true emotions and drama on stage. This quality is vital for the Bolshoi Ballet through its history but hardly I can remember many photographers who were able to see and capture it in such profound and yet natural way Gene did.
    Katerina Novikova
    Katerina Novikova
  • Gene has photographed me both on stage and in the studio since 2008. His images are a photographic record not only of my time with American Ballet Theatre but in many Galas and special performances around the world. Gene is very sensitive to the fine details of ballet and I am grateful for all the wonderful photographs he has given me over the years I have known him.
    Natalia Osipova
    Natalia Osipova
  • Gene Schiavone's work for American Ballet Theatre has served as a moving backdrop of more than a decade full of artistry. His easygoing manner belies a skillful eye, capturing the very best in classical and contemporary dance. As America's National Ballet Company®, ABT is fortunate to have Gene, an artist in his own medium, to document everything that is excellent.
    Kelly Ryan
    Kelly Ryan

Photographer's Statement

We all have creativity within our souls. It may lay dormant and invisible to our consciousness but there is an awareness of its existence. It may require a lifetime of work to expose it to the light of day but when it eventually surfaces it becomes an unstoppable force that needs to be harnessed and directed. Our task in life is to use this gift not only to satisfy our current need for personal fulfillment but leave behind some small evidence of our own existence.

Professional Ballet Photography with Gene Schiavone

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