“Extraordinary things happen behind the curtains. An ordinary ballerina (let’s call her Masha Ivanova) can be speaking with a friend, thinking about her problems and then, taking a step forward, she stops being Ivanova and becomes the Lilac Fairy or another unearthly character. This transformation can clearly be seen in the photographs. I think this is what inspires people to become dancers and artists, this is real magic.”

Mark Olich

“In the repetitions, trust is important for me. Repetitions are more interesting to photograph. This is an extremely intimate process and usually, no one is allowed there. The dancers are still searching and do not want others to see them in an imperfect form. They can break down and cry. When they call me to take photographs in the auditorium, I really appreciate this.”

Mark Olich

“It is interesting to photograph your own troupe, in which you know everyone and no one is bothered by your presence. It often happens that the girls fool around before going onstage or on the contrary, tell each other what is upsetting them. Sometimes the ballerinas from the corps de ballet, in accordance with the plot of the ballet, must communicate on stage, and photographing them from behind the curtains, I hear how the heroines of Swan Lake, in historical costumes, are discussing their car loans.”

This article originally appeared in Russia Beyond on April 9, 2018, and has been reposted with permission.