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June 10, 2012

Intimate Photographs Capture Ballet Dancers’ Rehearsals at New York’s School of American Ballet, 1936

In 1936 photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt did a photo shoot for LIFE magazine’s December issue of that year. It featured New York’s School of American Ballet, and except for the girls having different hair styles and a bit softer bodies than today's ballet dancers.

“The technical training across cultures and facility that dancers have now is so much greater,” Princeton Lecturer in Dance and longtime member of the Mark Morris Dance Group Tina Fehlandt told LIFE. “It’s important not to judge [Eisenstaedt’s] photos and the dancers in them by the technical standards of today. I love looking at old photos for that very reason — you can compare and contrast.”

These intimate pictures celebrate the many ways in which ballet, as an art form, has resisted change: a plié is ever a plié, and a dancer should still turn the legs out from the hips, rather than from the knees.

(Photos by Alfred Eisenstaedt—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)


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