Collapsed Movement and Broken Forms: A Dance Photography Collaboration with Nikola Bradonjic / by Nicole Baker

ETD + NIKOLA

Collapsed Movement and Broken Forms

Dance and photography are extremely visual art forms. Given the right combination of timing and talent, the eye can witness seemingly impossible moments of beauty that defy the rules of nature and provoke profound emotions. Combine the two and those extraordinary moments are frozen in time.

That’s the rush and delight felt when the right collaborators combine minds to make the visions crafted in their imaginations transform into striking images which seem spontaneous, though in actuality, they took careful planning, the concerted efforts of all involved and a touch of magic to achieve.

This was the process with photographer Nikola Bradonjic. We created a vision board to layout the visual concepts that excited both of us: off-balance movement with nude body details, heightened by a dancer’s muscular, sculptural form.

We knew it might be challenging, but definitely worth trying. So Nikola and I (with the help of my exquisite ETD Company dancers) set out to explore what being off-balance might look like in dancing movement and how that might further be enhanced by alternating nude exposure with leotards or draping fabrics.

We ended up capturing the dancers in mid-air movement leaping off of apple boxes. But instead of traditional action shots (which can be seen around NYC in posters for Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham Company, ABT and in many dance companies’ advertising) where a dancer is caught in the moment of flawless execution of an athletically complex move, we decided to forgo the aim of perfection (something so pervasive in dance) and instead sought to showcase collapsed bodies and broken forms.

The result of our experiment (with many thanks due to the phenomenal ETD Company dancers, who are unafraid to be bold, daring and find beauty in imperfection) has yielded a dynamic yet haunting quality, both poetic and vulnerable, a rare thing often only found in those special moments in art or life when we fully abandon all control and completely let ourselves go.

To learn more about Nikola, I asked him a few of our Artist Spotlight questions. Check out his responses below!


Nikola Bradonjic is documentary and fine art photographer from Serbia, now bahsed in New Work. For past 10 years he was working and producing both documentary and commercial work for various internationally known magazines, institutions and brands. He is specialized in portrait and documentary photography but theater and stage has been his biggest passion since the beginning and of his career. For more information visit: http://nikolabradonjic.com/

When did you begin photography? Has being a photographer always been your dream job?
Yes, photography always been my dream job. This year is my 10th anniversary from the moment I bought my first camera and start learning and living photography. And it just getting more and more interesting and challenging. I love it!

When did you first collaborate with Eryc Taylor Dance? What was the project? How was your experience?
This year was the first time I collaborated with Eryc Taylor Dance. Working with Eryc and team was super cool. We had a concept but most important a freedom to play and improvise. The result are strong and dynamic images that reflects nature of the dancers body and flow of the movement.

Have you ever worked with other dance, theater, or film companies?
Yes, I worked for the Serbian National Theater for several seasons. They have ballet, drama and opera companies with big production and busy season. I also covered few mayor theater festivals in Serbia and abroad.

Describe your style of photography and the artists that have impacted the most.
I like black and white photos, raw look, dirty aesthetic, and strong shadows.
There is so many good photographers that I’m discovering everyday, but I’m mostly under the influence of old school masters such is Irving Penn or Max Vadukul.

What public figure has had the biggest influence on you and why?
There is few Serbian musicians that shaped my view on life and things, with their raw music and sharp lyrics. I’m always returning to their music again and again.

Do you have a quote or mantra that you live by?
Just be honest to yourself and kind to the others.