Aleksandar is a photographer based in Toronto and was commissioned to take the company portraits that you see across this website and in the Map by Years campaign.
During my time as a Principal Dancer with The National Ballet of Canada, the name Peggy Baker was always there, floating around in my consciousness. I did not know Peggy personally or her work, but for some reason I had an image of a uniquely gifted dancer with an established career in New York City. I was already interested in photography and I remember seeing images of an incredibly stunning body and face, taken by Cylla von Tiedemann, a renowned dance photographer.
I also remember going to a performance of the Spring Showcase at The National Ballet School and seeing a piece by Peggy, choreographed for the talented Jamie Tapper who later became a Principal Dancer with The National Ballet of Canada and Royal Ballet in London, UK. At the time I was impressed with how Peggy achieved such a mature statement from a young 16-year-old dancer.
I was thrilled to be asked by Peggy to capture her wonderful company for their campaign (the individual portraits of each dancer, found here). What a treat to be collaborating with a humble, generous and open person as Peggy! It felt like a true dialogue, in which we could exchange ideas and create a space where these artists would allow an intrusive photographer with a big camera to enter a sacred, creative, and personal space and I felt that Peggy and myself created something really special together. We captured human beings at their most vulnerable and authentic, in the moment of truthful and honest creative expression.
I have had the privilege of capturing Peggy for a personal and very intimate portrait project as well, where I sat there with my camera, speechless and in awe of a wonderful and delicate and strong human being, who wasn’t afraid to share her life experiences, so openly and proudly and in the process allow me to feel stronger and more connected with life.
Last spring, I again witnessed something extraordinary at The National Ballet School’s Assemblée Internationale: Peggy created a piece for female students that I shall never forget! She, in her quiet, understated way, allowed the women to embody sensuality and space and take the audience to a place where time didn’t matter. The atmosphere we felt emanating from the stage was of established ballerinas working as a group, breathing as one, and mesmerizing us with their beauty and femininity.
What a gift to have an artist such as Peggy Baker amongst us in the city of Toronto, gracing us with her spirit and talent and letting us witness her lifelong dedication to art, music and expression!