Photographing The Joffrey Ballet

by Christopher Duggan

Derrick Agnoletti of The Joffrey Ballet in Son of Chamber Symphony; photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob’s Pillow Dance.

Last week marked the end of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival’s 80th Anniversary, and I found myself scrambling from one dress rehearsal to the other trying to squeeze in documentation of both main stage performances. I was so excited/nostalgic about the fact that this is the last week of the summer, and I wanted to capture it all.

Victoria Jaiani and Miguel Angel Blanco of The Joffrey Ballet in Son of Chamber Symphony; photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob’s Pillow Dance.”

I loved The Joffrey Ballet‘s program. They danced Bells by former Bolshoi Ballet dancer and San Francisco Ballet choreographer Yuri Possokhov, Age of Innocence by Edwaard Liang, and Son of Chamber Symphony, a world premiere by Stanton Welch. It’s always exciting to photograph a world premiere. My photos will be the first ones showcasing the new dance, and it makes me nervous and psyched.

Victoria Jaiani and Miguel Angel Blanco of The Joffrey Ballet in Son of Chamber Symphony; photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob’s Pillow Dance.

This idea is amplified at Jacob’s Pillow where world-renowned companies perform on a world stage. It’s a big deal to premiere work at the Pillow. All eyes are here. I knew the company wanted approval of the images before they were given to the press, so I wanted to be sure I delivered both quality and quantity. I made a larger number of photographs than I typically do at dress rehearsal, and prepared and edited the photos for use within hours. It’s a lot of pressure to photograph for press use, but it’s something I’ve grown used to in the fast-paced world of performance documentation.

I had a great time with The Joffrey. The dancers were so talented, and the tutus in Stanton Welch’s new work were exquisite and especially fun to photograph.

Yumelia Garcia and Matthew Adamczyk of The Joffrey Ballet in Son of Chamber Symphony; photo 2012 Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob’s Pillow Dance.

Please visit my blog if you’d like to see more from this year’s festival. I post photos from Jacob’s Pillow each Friday, and I’m doing a few special projects in the coming weeks that I’d love to share.

Christopher Duggan, Photo by Julia Newman

Contributor Christopher Duggan is the founder and principal photographer of Christopher Duggan Photography, a New York City-based wedding and dance photography studio. Duggan has been the Festival Photographer for Jacob’s Pillow Dance since 2006. In this capacity, and as a respected New York-based dance photographer, he has worked with renowned choreographers and performers of international acclaim as well as upstarts in the city’s diverse performance scene.

He has created studio shots of Gallim Dance, Skybetter +  Associates and Zvidance, among others, and in 2011 alone, he has photographed WestFest at Cunningham Studios, Dance From the Heart for Dancers Responding to Aids, The Gotham Dance Festival at The Joyce Theater, and assisted Nel Shelby Productions in filming Vail International Dance Festival.

Duggan often teams up with his talented wife and Pillow videographer Nel Shelby ( A New York City-based husband and wife dance documentation team, they are equipped to document performances, create and edit marketing videos and choreography reels, and much more.

Christopher Duggan Photography also covers Manhattan’s finest wedding venues, the Metropolitan and Tri-State areas, and frequently travels to destination weddings.  The company’s mission is straightforward and heartfelt – create timeless, memorable images of brides, grooms, their families and friends, and capture special moments of shared love, laughter and joy.

His photographs appear in The New York Times, Destination I Do, Photo District News, Boston Globe, Financial Times, Dance Magazine, Munaluchi Bridal, and Bride & Bloom, among other esteemed publications and popular wedding blogs. One of his images of Bruce Springsteen was added to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s celebrated photography collection in 2010. His company has been selected for inclusion in “The Listings” in New York Weddings magazine.

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Catherine L. Tully is the owner/editor at To learn more about Catherine and the other contributors at 4dancers, see the "Contributor" tab at the top of the page. To reach Catherine, send an e-mail to info (at) 4dancers (dot) org

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