It had been a long desire of mine to do a maternity shoot on pointe. Ballerinas are beautiful. They are graceful and elegant. An expecting mother is also beautiful. She may not feel that way most of the time, but to be with child is an amazing thing. “Mothers to be” possess a certain glow. They are part of a miraculous process. They are creating life. You look at a pregnant mother and you can’t help but smile. Well, at least if you are already a parent, you can’t. You know how much joy their life will be full of as a result of this spirit they are carrying. Plus, the time leading up to the birth is such a fun and exciting time for them and the family, apart from pains, discomfort, morning sickness and odd cravings.
Sorry, I think I went on a rant there. Anyway, because of the above stated things, there is a joy in maternity shoots. It allows the mother to have this life changing period of time documented. I always felt that maternity on pointe would make for some dynamic photos. One thing that didn’t really dawn on me until talking to Gabby at this shoot was just how special it is to capture a dancer’s maternity period DURING her career.
I had just completed my first en pointe maternity shoot with Fang from Koresh Dance Company when I approached Gabby about doing one. We had talked before about working together. However, it can be a daunting tasking trying to schedule around a professional dancer’s schedule. Throw in that dancer being pregnant and boy oh boy, good luck Charlie! So, it was a pleasant surprise almost when she agreed to the shoot and we kept up on communication!
Going into the shoot, I had really little communication or encounters with Gabby. We had never met and only communicated on Facebook a small handful of times. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had always heard such wonderful things about her. However, with little exchange with her myself, I really could not get any kind of read. I mean she was always pleasant when I did correspond with her.
So, we compared schedules and set up our date and time which happened relatively easily. I think with her being in her third trimester and not actively dancing, just doing a party parent in Nutcracker, it makes it easier. I will take it!
The day of the shoot came and I arrived to the studio early to set up and prepare physically and mentally as I always do. Ok. As I always try to do and sometimes actually do. Also, as normal, when I have morning shoots, I usually run to the coffee shop down the corner from the studio for some java to keep me up. This day was no different. However, as I was turning around to walk out of the shop, I saw a woman flash (speed, not the other way. get your mind out of the gutter) by with a bag in her hand. Although she seemed to be keeping a faster pace then I would anticipate someone who is pregnant, she had the look or blur of a dancer. Sure enough, it was her!
We greeted and hustled up into the studio to start chatting and begin work. I was really caught off guard by how bubbly and almost silly she was. She was very fun – light, bubbly and always laughing. This was SOOOO cool! It put me at ease straight away and allowed us to really sync from go. That ALWAYS helps the sessions. If you can connect and develop some kind of chemistry right off the bat, it will prove to be a fruitful session!
Let me also say that Gabby is drop dead gorgeous. Just stunning.
Gabby comes from a storied ballet family! Both of her parents were principal dancers for Pennsylvania Ballet. Her mother, Barbara Sandonato, was the first dancer hired for Pennsylvania Ballet when it formed in 1962 and remained with them until 1977 with the exception of one year spent with National Ballet of Canada where she performed with Rudolf Nureyev. Her father, the late Alexei Yudenich, joined PAB as a principal in 1964 until he left in 1972 to join National Ballet of Canada as a principal. Her parents also won bronze in the 5th IBC in Varna.
She herself met her husband in dance, in school actually at the School of American Ballet, the same school her mother attended. They then reconnected while at work for Pennsylvania Ballet, marrying in 2006. Her husband has since retired and joined the corporate world post-college.
I am so grateful I had the opportunity to work with her and really happy it was for this shoot. It is always nice to be a part of something special and this was just that! Here are some teasers from our shoot. Hope you enjoy!!!