Posted on September 28, 2010
Take a look behind the scenes of our latest cover shoot with Lauren Cuthbertson
The Royal Ballet’s Lauren Cuthbertson will be dancing Ashton’s Sylvia in November. For our special anniversary cover, we wanted her in costume, in a pose taken from the ballet. To get the position just right, Lauren would dance whole phrases from the famous pizzicato solo, humming as she went.
Photographer Tim Cross, a former dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet, sang along: he’s danced in Sylvia too, playing the pirate chief in David Bintley’s version of the ballet. It helps, Lauren said later, when the photographer knows about dance: he understands what will show off her classical line, her turnout. During the shoot, Tim consults Lauren often. They check the images they’ve already taken, discussing what works and how to improve it.
She’s careful to get her footwear right, too. “These are my shoes to rehearse La Valse,” Lauren explains – a ballet full of swooping ballroom steps, very different from the longer balances she’s doing here. “I might put a harder shoe on.” As she changes them, a thread from the darned toe of her pointe shoe rips loose. “I sewed these in a hurry! Do you have scissors?” “I have a blade,” Tim replies, finding a penknife, “if you promise not to cut your finger…”
In a break, Lauren opened a bottle of pomegranate juice – then looked down at her pale peach tutu. She ended up bending right over to drink, in case of drips. “Think pomegranate!” Tim exclaims when they resume, asking for more smiles. “Not kumquat.” Later, Lauren wonders if they should try something “Less smiley? Pleasant, but not pomegranate.”
With the Sylvia shots, we’re looking for a recognisable pose, one of the ballet’s iconic moments. Several famous poses come from the ballet’s pas de deux, so they wouldn’t work without a partner. “We’d need a boy,” Lauren says – then smiles at Simon Oliver, Dancing Times’ production editor, who is observing the shoot. “Simon, would you…?”
She changes out of her tutu for some informal portrait shots, to illustrate the interview in this month’s issue. Tim suggests she wears “Your favourite comfy practice clothes.” “I’m not sure,” Lauren says. “I look like a ninja in those.”
They try out different poses, Tim making suggestions. Lauren tries most of them, but rejects the idea that she should lean between two of his big lamps: “Way too cheesy. I’m not going in the Dancing Times looking like that!” They’re both happier with a range of balances and stretchy yoga positions. She jumps up and down, delighted, when she sees a shot that’s just right.
Lauren Cuthbertson speaks to Zoë Anderson in the October issue of Dancing Times.