Antoinette Mooy has been working for years as the ‘resident photographer’ of the National Ballet Academy. As in previous years, she will once again be recording the performances of Dancers of Tomorrow on her camera, working alongside photographer Sasha Gouliaev. She believes her dancing background is essential to her present job. “Anyone can photograph a beautiful jeté or arabesque, but you also have to be able to capture the essence of a choreographic work”.
Antoinette Mooy was one of the first generation of dancers with Introdans, in Arnhem. After receiving sound training at a private school in Nijmegen, she took the state exam for dance teachers and went on to study theatre dance at the Conservatoire in Arnhem. “It was like a breath of fresh air”, she recalls. “Everything was suddenly much freer and you could really be yourself on stage”. In 1971, she was accepted for the recently founded Introdans, where she danced for ten years, took rehearsals for a while and spent eight years assisting Roel Voorintholt, when he took up the post of director of the Introdans Ensemble for Youth in 1989.
She also got to know Hans van Manen at Introdans. “In 2000, he asked me if I’d film the ceremony of the presentation of his Erasmus Prize, so that Henk (van Dijk, cameraman and Van Manen’s spouse – ed.) would also be on film. So I did a course in camera, directing and montage, and that’s how it started”, she says cheerfully.
Initially, Antoinette concentrated exclusively on making video reportages of dance, but as digital photography took off she switched to photography, after taking a few more courses. “My first assignment was the Diaghilev Festival in Groningen, in 2005, and other commissions soon followed; from Hans van Manen again and, for example, Stichting Dansersfonds ’79, the Holland Dance Festival, the Dutch Dance Festival, the Prix de Lausanne and, of course, the National Ballet Academy”.
“As an ex-dancer, you always dance along when you’re taking photos”, she says. “You see and feel everything, and you know where an attitude should be, or an arm. Of the five hundred photos I take, I keep about a hundred. Not because there are no good photos among the four hundred, but because the ballet poses in them aren’t perfect. And of course they have to be perfect. I aim to take photos that are technically superb, but without losing the emotion. A good dance photo should show what the choreography is all about”.
Antoinette really enjoys photographing young dance students. “Those kids radiate such energy and give you so much back even before you’ve printed a photo for them. And it’s great to follow their development. Take someone like Timothy van Poucke, for instance, who I’ve really seen flourish over the years. It’s so fantastic when you see dancers who were once shy and reserved suddenly ‘burst open’ and let go”.
And she’s acquired another passion in recent years too. She’s discovered that she loves giving masterclasses in dance photography – something she’s done for the Dutch Dance Festival and the Holland Dance Festival, and on commission from photographic museum Huis Marseille. “I find it fascinating to pass on my knowledge and experience. And here too, although in a different way, you see people really flourish. A positive approach and valuable criticism can give an enormous boost to people who love photography, as proved time and time again by the reactions I get”.
There is a wide selection of Antoinette’s photos on the website www.antoinettemooy.com.
Dancers of Tomorrow – end-of-year performances
Over thirty contracts in the Netherlands and abroad
Students Khayla Fitzpatrick and Timothy van Poucke talk about Dancers of Tomorrow
Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Yondering in Hamburg
International Summer School
Choreographer Nils Christe visits the National Ballet Academy
National Ballet Academy pupils perform at Jump Dance Day