Last week I spent two hours at the Carolina Ballet studios photographing a class from pre-class hanging around the barre, through plies and tendues, to the beautiful waltzes and the final grande allegro. This class was level 4b of the Ruth S. Shur Carolina Ballet Summer Intensive, a competitive program that brings top dancers from all over the country. Ashley Bouder of the New York City Ballet as a guest teacher was soft-spoken and encouraging, and gave beautiful demonstrations. There were a few observers in the studio and one of them suggested there was no way to get a bad picture with such beautiful subjects. (Or objects? I never know.) She’s right that at least the content of the million pictures I took is striking, even if there might be an absence of camera skill in any or all of them. I put over 100 of the pictures together in the video below (accompanied by some free public domain ambient music you may want to mute) so that you can see the class progression. Besides long extensions, leaps and and balances you should expect to see in ballet pictures, you can also see dancers listening intently to benefit from the knowledge of an experienced teacher, or deeply focused on their own movement through a grande plie. And their faces, full of tension as they focus and acquaint themselves with a new teacher during the first few combinations at the barre, soften into smiles when they start moving in the center.