Andy Batt was the photographic genius behind the OBT Season Brochure from 2003-2012, and has shot our dancers from the wings as well. The relationship between a photographer and a dancer is truly a collaboration, and working with the same subject for an extended period of time can bring out the best in both artists. Alison Roper and Andy Batt have shared time in the studio for all these years, and were recently reunited by Portland Monthly Magazine for the April 2014 issue (see a preview of that article here). We asked Andy to tell us about his experiences with Alison as we all prepare to “Celebrate” her in her farewell performances. Tickets are still available through our website.


Alison at YU for PoMo.
Alison at YU for Portland Monthly. Photo courtesy Andy Batt.

“When I heard that Alison was retiring, the first thing that went through my mind was the realization that I’ve worked with her since 2003—11 years.


Alison behind the scenes of the first "Swan Lake" shoot. Photo courtesy Andy Batt.
Alison behind the scenes of the first “Swan Lake” shoot. Photo courtesy Andy Batt.

Alison is an artist and athlete. She’s willing to push, to find perfection in the sweat, pain and hard work. She’s always collaborated with me photographically, and never had a problem finding a solution that worked for a good photograph—even in 2003 at my first OBT photoshoot, when I was just learning how to photograph ballet.


For 2006-07 season.
Alison with Ronnie Underwood for the 2006-07 season. Photo courtesy Andy Batt.

I am in awe of the amount of work done by Alison (or any dancer) to present her artistry as something effortless and full of light while on stage. Photographing in the wings and backstage during performances, I’ve been witness to the tremendous effort and physicality required to be a ballet dancer.


Alison and Artur in Trey McIntyre’s “Just”. Photo courtesy Andy Batt.

I think my favorite Roper performance is in Almost Mozart—simply for the silence that reveals that duality of grace and hard work.


Alison in Val Caniparoli’s “Lambarena”. Photo courtesy Andy Batt.

I recently had the immense privilege of creating one last shoot with Alison. Mike Novak, Art Director for Portland Monthly Magazine, called and asked if I had any recent images they could use for an article on Alison and her retirement from OBT.

Prodigal Son.
Alison with Chauncey Parsons for the company premiere of Balanchine’s “Prodigal Son”. Photo courtesy Andy Batt.


My immediate response was to offer one last photoshoot to cap off 10 years of photographing Alison. Seeing Alison walk through the studio door for our final photo shoot hit me harder then I thought—I got a little bit choked up about it. Every time I see her, it’s like no time has passed—Alison walks through the door and picks up where we left off.


Alison at YU for PoMo.
Alison at YU for Portland Monthly. Photo courtesy Andy Batt.

In front of the camera Alison becomes impossibly taller, more statuesque—she is literally possessed by her art. Over the years I’ve often found that when she simply stands quietly, it becomes a moment worth photographing. You can see that moment in Portland Monthly.


Swan Lake
Alison Roper and Artur Sultanov for “Swan Lake”. Photo courtesy Andy Batt.

I wanted the image I created to show her transformation to the next story—to be about a new beginning and not an ending. At the same time I wanted to capture the grace and beauty that’s always there, whenever Alison steps in front of my camera.


Hair Love.
Alison and Aqua Net. Behind the scenes of the “Midsummer” shoot. Photo courtesy Andy Batt.

Congratulations Alison—it’s been an honor and a privilege to have photographed you. I look forward to our next collaboration.

Alison and Andy, reunited one last time.
Alison and Andy, reunited one last time.



-andy batt

Portland, 2014


Do you have your own Alison Roper memories to share? Include them in the comments, and we’ll include them in her retirement gift!

0 thoughts on “Photo Essay – Andy Batt on Alison Roper

  1. I remember the first time I saw Alison dance- she literally brought my heart into my throat and tears to my eyes. I thought she had the most amazing stage presence I had seen in any dancer since my mom- and that is the highest compliment I can give. I simply loved every minute of watching her. She reminded me why I love ballet so much.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.