The Bristol Ballerina Project


Credit: Suzi Bird

Dance photographer introduces her ‘The Bristol Ballerina’ project, mashing up ballet and our city in a beautiful way.

I started a career as a professional photographer, having recently graduated from The University of South Wales. My whole time at university, I was fuelled by my passion for dance, wanting to develop a career as a dance photographer. Having danced from the age of three, it seemed almost natural to combine two very inspirational elements within my life. My understanding of the dancer’s movements, and ability to predict when the dancer reaches the climax of their movement, means that I am able to capture dancers at the perfect moment, freezing their movements in time and preserving an otherwise fleeting moment. Currently, I am undergoing a project entitled ‘The Bristol Ballerina’.


Credit: Suzi Bird

I grew up just outside Bristol and the city has not only been a big part of my childhood, but it has remained a place to call home despite studying away in South Wales for three years. There are so many beautiful photographs of Bristol that depict the creative, lively city beautifully. However, I felt that there was a lack of images that showed people artistically expressing the life within the thriving city. Thus, The Bristol Ballerina project was born. The project combines landscape and dance together to create a narrative that compliments the city.


Credit: Suzi Bird

From wide-open spaces to the smaller details of urban landscape, the images within this project show the vast versatility of the city. From Stokes Croft to Ashton Court, the location for each image is chosen to highlight each area’s contribution to the city, showing how many different parts can make up one whole. Not only does the project highlight the visual versatility of Bristol, it is also a nod towards the variety of culture, language and style that the city is famous for. In order to keep the images authentic, I cast local classical dancers for the project, many of which I know through my local dance school, the Adele Stitch School of Dance. Along with my knowledge of dance and movement, the dancers’ abilities ensure that an effective image is captured within only a few takes. Throughout my life I have always been a keen sewer, and I make the majority of skirts that you see in my work. By using fabrics that can be manipulated easily, I am able to create an endless amount of different shapes and silhouettes that extend from the dancers bodies. These skirts not only accentuate the dancers’ movements, but also show the effect that each movement has on the area around them. This shows the way in which a person’s actions have a direct effect on their environment, even if it can’t always be seen.


Credit: Suzi Bird

The Bristol Ballerina is an on-going project, with new images being shot weekly. For a full collection of images please go here. If you are a dancer and are interested in becoming part of this project, please email me

Head over to the Rife guide to find out where else you can learn more about dance in Bristol

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