It might seem odd that a classically trained principal dancer with a storied 25-year career in ballet, like Aleksandar Antonijevic should choose to pursue photography as his post-dance vocation. Dance is, after all, the study and craft of motion, of bodies moving elegantly and thrillingly through space, and photography is the art of freezing motion in time. There is stillness in dance, of course, but photography is the very embodiment of stillness. The image does not stir; it hangs there, static and unchanging. But the miraculous thing about Aleksandar’s photographs (and this is where you can perhaps sense the dancer behind the lens) is that if stare at them long enough, they seem to move.
A photograph doesn’t really make sense until there is someone looking at it; the real value lies somewhere in the conversation between changeless photographs and live viewers. This is where Aleksandar’s interest lies: in crafting a conversation between the subject of the photo and the viewer, between body and light, between what is hidden and what is revealed. What can be expressed, queried, provoked in the heart of the viewer simply by looking at a still image? How can a communication flow through space and time from the moment the image is captured to the moment it is viewed — minutes, hours, days, months later? It takes a highly sensitive and mature artist like Aleksandar Antonijevic to situate his subjects so carefully, to put them so much at ease in front of the lens, and just wait. Wait until communication flares up — like a match being lit — and capture it, gently, without blowing out the flame, cupping it, and nesting it gently in the borders of a meticulously crafted photograph, where it can burn for as long as the photograph exists. Each photograph is a tiny flame somehow preserved. There is great beauty, of course, in the ephemerality of dance, but there is an ache to this impermanence too.
The great trick that Aleksandar Antonijevic manages is to save some of these shards of beauty — in his dance photography, but also his more abstract
pieces, and even his portraits — so that we can enjoy them again and again, whenever we care to stop and look.
Aleksandar Antonijevic’s work has been exhibited all over North America and Europe. In 2021 he served as principal photographer for Canada’s Drag Race: Season Two, and began a project in partnership with the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet.
Written by Damien Atkins – acclaimed actor and playwright
Which hood are you in?
Since coming to Canada in 1991, I have always been an east ender and currently live in the Upper Beach area.
What do you do?
I am a commercial and fine art photographer, as well as a ballet coach and stager of ballets internationally.
What are you currently working on?
As a visual artist, I continually work on different projects, some of which are short-term and some long-term series.
Love meeting new subjects, getting to know them in the actual photoshoot and seeing what kind of energy and chemistry we have in the studio.
I am writing about my long-term series “Box of Sorrows” which hopefully will become a fine art exhibit and a book.
Getting ready to leave for Moscow again, to assist Alexei Ratmansky with his new creation for Bolshoi Ballet.
Where can we find your work?