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The Essence of Ballet

“There they are, the dancers. So fine and gracious, with makeup and dressed in elf clothing and troll fur, beetle wings and rococo wigs. It’s an enchanting sight. I carefully take the camera from my bag. I do not dare to press too hard on the release button or stand to close. I feel like a stranger here, trying to settle in. I am given permission to photograph from the auditorium, from behind the scenes and from the rigging loft, where the light technicians work. Looking through my viewfinder, I constantly discover new expressions in the movement, captivating me. Lights glide poetically over the magical scenery. The orchestra fills the theatre.”
Ingrid Bugge

I followed The Royal Danish Ballet closely over a period of two years. I got under the skin of the dancers; their challenges, their victories, the stories they so passionately tell with their bodies, and the secret adventures that happens behind the curtain. I got a deep understanding of the world of ballet and the classic tales the dancers unfold. All of that resulted in the ballet photography art project The Essence of Ballet stems.

The photographic collages visualize the nerve and soul of ballet and resemble the classical painting in their expression. The intention of the ballet photography art project was to capture and condense moments from the ballet performances to reveal the essence of ballet.


See them all in the gallery.

Art Exhibit


The exhibit The Essence of Ballet was displayed for the first time in Artcentre Silkeborg Bad’s ten halls from the 3rd of may to the 7th of september 2014. Balletmaster Nikolaj Hübbe opened the exhibit at the opening on the 3rd of may 2014.

A total of 39 huge pieces of ballet photography were on display. Meanwhile, the visitors had an opportunity to get a look into my workprocess, through a showing of a movie. In continuation of the exhibit, the Royal Ballet Silkeborg made an appearence on the 13th of June 2014 while already on their sommer-tour of Denmark. While the exhibition was open, it was also possible to see a 30 metre long frieze with selected pieces in the town of Silkeborg. Afterwards, selected pieces were shown at the Galleri Kunsthuset, Galleri Lejre and Galleri Belle. A special curated exhibit of roughly 20 pieces are expected to be shown in Perm, Moscow and St. Petersborg in 2016/17.


The art book is a rare and fascinating window to the enchanting world of ballet with 63 photographic collages over The Royal Danish Ballet and interviews with ballet master Nikolaj Hübbe, writer and ballet reviewer Erik Aschengreen and photographer Lars Schwander.

Nikolaj Hübbe poetically describes three important events in his life as a ballet dancer and as Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Ballet. Erik Aschengreen tells the story of his lifelong fascination with and love for the ballet and how he made ballet his profession. Lars Schwander, the founder of Fotografisk Center, describes the art of photography and ballet and how Ingrid Bugge’s photographs occupy a space in between the two. As an appendix Ingrid Bugge tells about her encounter with the ballet and about the artistic process behind the art project. The purpose of this book is to accompany the reader into the poetic nerve of the ballet, its soul and its presence. The Essence of Ballet addresses those who, much like the contributors to this book, are fascinated by or perhaps in love with the poetic essence of the ballet.

Pages: 138
Format: 34 x 30 cm
Language: both Danish and English
Hardcover with an extra plastic cover
Price: 60 EUR (shipping not included)

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Also available as Ibook. Price: 50 DKK. Get it here.

City exhibition

From the 5th of April to the 30th of September 2013, 6 pieces were selected from The Essence of Ballet to be shown on The City’s Fence on Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen. The exhibit stretched for 30 meters from the beginning of Østergade towards the left past Hotel D’Angleterre. With the pieces shown in the open cityspace in front of the Royal Danish Theatre, passer by’s were invited inside the poetic world of ballet behind the walls of the theatre. This way, the pieces became a window into the the fascinating world of ballet.