Italian ballerina tells life story with help from Bromley photographer

A photographer from Bromley has collaborated with an Italian ballerina to create a photo book and memoir telling the story of her life.

Former principal dancer with The Royal Ballet, Mara Galeazzi, worked with Jason Ashwood, from Beckenham, to provide some insight into her life on and behind the stage in the book Shadow Aspect.

The book centres on Ms Galeazzi’s performance of Podesta’s ballet of the same name, where Mr Ashwood spent five days backstage photographing her in 2017.

He said: “It was an incredible experience, to follow someone so closely for so long, who had already performed more than 3,000 times worldwide.

“Afterwards, looking at the pictures, I realised that I’d only just scratched the surface in terms of capturing her remarkable artistry and emotions onstage.”

Over the next four years, Mr Ashwood continued to photograph the ballerina – even travelling to her home in Oman to watch her ballet classes and family life.

The book contains 74 black and white photographs of the dancer, alongside Ms Galeazzi’s life story.

Although incredibly professionally successful, Ms Galeazzi has faced hardships in her life, including childhood depression, anxiety and injury.

She said: “The book is about my deep thoughts and experience when I was a child – and it’s about fulfilling my dreams with many obstacles in life.

“I think it is important to share a story like mine. I believe it gives people hope and strength that inspire them not to stop their dreams, no matter what life gives you.”

Two of the images are in the National Portrait Gallery archives, including a head and shoulders, face-on portrait.

Mr Ashwood said: “This is a beautiful image of Mara. She’s confident, relaxed and soft. I never quite caught her like this again. I caught her in many other lovely ways, but not as soft as this in a portrait.

“But the reason I like it so much is that behind the image is a story of her resilience and professionalism. That was shot at about 9pm after she’d been rehearsing all day and then did a two-hour photo shoot with me.

“At the end, I nervously asked if she’d give me 10 minutes for a portrait. She also had a slight chest infection.”

Another of Mr Ashwood’s favourites was taken side stage just before her first solo in Shadow Aspect.

He said: “This is the moment Mara has been working for – for months – and to capture an essence of that intensity was quite magical.

“To be right there with her, feet away among all the other dancers, is a privilege. It’s a sign of trust on such an important night – in an important moment.”

Pic: Jason Ashwood and Mara Galeazzi



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