Dressed for work with the Birmingham Royal Ballet


A wonderful new photographic exhibition opened in Birmingham last week. ‘Dressed for Work’ is a fantastic celebration of the work of Marta Kochanek and is part of the 25th Birthday celebrations of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. The photographs feature four of the key dancers from the BRB, First Soloist Celine Gitttens, Principal Momoko Hirata, Soloist Rory Mackay and Principal Cesar Morales and shows their transformation from their normal wardrobes, to being ‘Dressed for Work’.

I love the idea behind the exhibition, which states

Most of us naturally think of our wardrobes as including both work and play clothes, or casual or dress clothes.

But what happens when fancy dress is a part of your working life? If you’re a prince, a swan, a doll or a magician

during your working day, what do you wear when you are being you?”



Marta has taken some stunning photographs of the four ballet stars, some of them in their offstage attire, others in full stage costume. The photographs capture the stunning beauty of the stars; along with bringing to life the faces behind the magicians and princes, swans and dolls, and allowing real character and personality to shine through. In particular, Momoko Hirata’s photographs show the vivacity of the woman in comparison to her doll-like beauty as Coppelia.




The biggest transformation is Rory Mackay. In his portraits Marta has shown the handsome man behind the wizened Dr Coppelius. The effect is striking and surprising, almost unrecognisable in his transformation.

The photographs are currently on show at Birmingham’s Mailbox complex in a specially constructed pop-up instillation, which also features costumes from the ballets featured. I was lucky enough to go along to the launch last week and to meet the fabulous Momoko Hirata, who is every bit as lovely in real life. Marta Kochanek and Barbara Gibson of the Gibson Kochanek studios were also in attendence on what was a very lovely evening of beautiful art and dance combined.


With Momoko Hirata at the Dressed for Work launch.


Dave from #Brumhour

Dave from #Brumhour


Marta and Barbara  from Gibson Kochanek Studio

5 thoughts on “Dressed for work with the Birmingham Royal Ballet

  1. I had heard of this exhibition so it’s a delight to read about it. I’ve heard of similar at the V&A which is closer to home but if I get the chance to visit I would love to. Thanks to my eldest daughter I am beginning to appreciate the finer points of ballet (not that you’ll find me ballet dancing, two left feet!). Perhaps next time we visit granny we could take a small detour?

  2. What a beautiful exhibition, the idea behind t is brilliant! The dresses are stunning especially the black one! I don’t remember the last time I went to see the ballet!

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