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Behind the Lens

Many will know Ethan Watts as a dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, but few may know he is a keen photographer. Watts joined us on the set of our upcoming video for Fjord Review #2 at the invitation of Karolina Kuras, to capture the action and ambience of the shoot. Watts photographs exclusively with film. His pictures show not only a trained dancer's eye, but a clear instinct for catching the moment.

Ethan Watts. Photograph by Karolina Kuras for Skylar Campbell Dance Collective

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Watts, born and raised in San Francisco, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and at the Academy of Ballet, California. He joined the National Ballet of Canada in 2013 and notably cavaliered his partner Hannah Fischer to success at the 2015 International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize. What follows are excerpts from our brief back-and-forth on Instagram, where I asked Watts about his foray into photography.

FR: How did you become interested in photography, and using film in particular?

EW: My dad used to take pictures on his film camera when I was a kid, and I don't know, I actually thought it was annoying because he would make me stop all the time and take a picture. I don't know how I started, I just tried it and loved it, honestly. I love taking pictures and I love the uncertainty of film.

I love taking pictures and I love the uncertainty of film

Ethan Watts

FR: How would you describe your approach to photography?

EW: My approach is to try to cater to whatever I'm photographing—to try and get to know whatever or whoever—and just be aware of how the person or thing or place feels. But I love photographing people, because people are just the best.

FR: What about cats and dogs?

EW: O fu*k, how could I forget. I love my babies, George and Penelope, and I really believe there are no bad pictures of them, their beautiful spirits always shine through my sometimes subpar skill level.

Ethan Watts' photography will appear in Fjord Review #2. [For pictures of George and Penelope, see Watts' Instagram.]

Penelope Ford


Penelope is the founding editor of Fjord Review, international magazine of dance and ballet. Penelope graduated from Law and Arts with majors in philosophy and languages from the University of Melbourne, Australia, before turning to the world of dance. She lives in Italy.

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