Stunning ballerina portraits from Wilmslow photographer Senem Peace

PUBLISHED: 16:42 20 July 2020 | UPDATED: 18:20 21 July 2020

Dancer Emma O'Hara in an RAD registered and ISTD qualified dance teacher. She has been dancing since an early age and now teaches at Ambitions Dance School in Lymm.

Dancer Emma O'Hara in an RAD registered and ISTD qualified dance teacher. She has been dancing since an early age and now teaches at Ambitions Dance School in Lymm.

Senem Peace

What started as a lockdown project for Wilmslow’s Senem Peace blossomed into a series of pictures capturing the grace and power of ballerinas as well as raising money for a mental health charity

“It started as a documentary project, to photograph dancers in lockdown,” says Wilmslow’s Senem Peace. “As a photographer, it was a way of still being able to take pictures, something I love doing, but it was also about wanting to create something positive out of the situation we were all in and do something, in my own small way, for the community.

“I wanted to show people there is always hope, there is always joy in life and I thought capturing the grace, poise and beauty of dancers and ballet would fit perfectly with that.”

Senem, who moved to Wilmslow from Istanbul, has been a professional photographer since she was 22, working for national newspapers, magazines and PR & advertisement companies in Turkey. Following some years writing about travel, contemporary art and interior design – when she moved to Cheshire and following the birth of her son - her love of taking pictures and her career in photography were reignited. Today, she now does branding and portraits, fine art photography and takes striking images of dancers.

For her Project Hope, Senem first began photographing junior dancers and trainee dance students, through the windows of their homes and in their gardens near to her Wilmslow home, using the hour initially allowed for exercise. But as things started to ease, she was then able to meet professional dancers, photographing them in well-known Cheshire locations. She also launched the project to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation to help raise awareness of the challenges people face.

Gallery: 34 images of Cheshire life in lockdown

“Dancers are very symbolic, not only with the process we have gone through in lockdown but also fpr those who struggle with mental health,” says Senem. “I photographed a dancer, very early morning, in Prestbury. After being so restricted, it was special to meet when the rest of the world was still sleeping and get these magical pictures, showing such freedom and movement in beautiful Cheshire places.

“Dance has a real power that doesn’t only fulfil an artistic expectation but it also gives hope to overcome challenges that tie us down. For me, I have found it fascinating to witness how the hard work of a dancer results in something so elegant. It’s about overcoming a struggle and emerging stronger and joyful.

“I, like many had so plans for this year and then we all found ourselves in this incredibly hard situation. Fear suddenly became the main actor in our lives. Fear for our health, fear for our financial status, fear for the future and fear for not being able to see our loved ones again.

“People already struggling with mental health issues, found themselves having to deal with this new stress of the lockdown, including young people. When I first started, I didn’t know how it would go but I really hope the pictures have brought joy and hope and a love of the beauty and elegance of the dancers and of Cheshire.”

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