“In a century past, these dancers may well have modelled for Rodin’s sculptures,” writes French choreographer Marie Agnus Gillot in her foreword to Matthew Brookes’ first book Les Danseurs. “But it is through Matthew’s lens that they display their musculature and agility.” The English-born photographer has spent the better part of his career shooting fashion editorials and portraiture for publications including Vanity Fair, Vogue and Interview, but Les Danseurs is the first time he has published personal work.
Fascinated by the often overlooked athleticism of male dancers, for a year Matthew shot 20 men from the Paris Opera Ballet in between endless training and rehearsals. His stripped-back, black and white portraits of the Paris dance company’s male corps celebrate their dual roles as athletes and artists, capturing the superhuman twists and leaps and contortions in a deliberately less classical way. “Just as [with] Rodin’s sculptures,” Gillot explains, “his [Matthew’s] photographs come alive with movement.”