Formations – how this series evolved

Today I’m thrilled to share with you a series of small paintings inspired by the formations on stage of the corps de ballet.

One of my favourite things about well-choreographed classical ballets is the beautiful patterns the corps de ballet form on stage. I like to get a good view of the mesmerising formations on stage. So I try not to book tickets too close to the stage or too far from the centre. This collection includes my recollections of some of my favourite ‘moments’. They’re not necessarily choreographically accurate, as I’ve focused on conveying my impressions and sometimes taken a few liberties to recreate my composition ‘staging’ on the canvas.
Oil painting in dark blue. Ballerina figures in long white romantic tutus and swan headdresses emerge in a v formation against the background.
My very first corps de ballet painting (above) was much larger than these dinky works. It was partly inspired by a photograph by my former colleague, Montgomery Cooper and only the second of my blue ballet oil paintings. My sister is the proud owner of that one.
Acrylic painting of 8 ballerina figures poised in arabesque, wearing romantic tutus. They are positioned on a stage with a forest backdrop.

My first dinky corps de ballet scene (above) was square in format. It’s also gone to a happy forever home. I had so much fun painting the scenery for this and was a little unsure how to get the proportions right. I rarely work from photographs so scale can take a bit of planning. I cut out lots of tiny paper ballerina figures and arranged them on the canvas to help me get the symmetry of the composition right. So much fun!

The works in the collection on my website developed later on and partly by accident. I’d ordered the small canvases by mistake (mistook centimetres for inches). When they arrived, they reminded me of the ballerina transfer books ballerina books my sister and I had as kids – the ones with preprinted sets and then sheets of transfers of dancers in different costumes so you could arranged them on the sets and then rub them very carefully to transfer them onto the page. My transfer skills were a lot less exact than my older sisters! So I decided to relive my children by creating of a duo of Giselle and Swan Lake inspired corps de ballet scenes in paint.

I’ve since extended the series and experimented with different techniques and media to explore the balance between painterliness and representation. The most recent painting is the most layered. I hope you enjoy browsing these. They always make me smile.

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