Photography by Nathan Ianos, Katie O'Neill and MJ Smith

Tierney Heap is a First Soloist of The Royal Ballet and one of the country's elite ballerinas.

Born in 1996, Tierney began dancing aged two. She trained at the Caroline Wright School of Dance at Centre Pointe, Manchester. Aged 11 she won a scholarship to study at Elmhurst School for Dance and aged 15 joined The Royal Ballet Upper School, graduating into the Company in 2012.

The ex Bury Grammar pupil is now based in London, training, rehearsing and performing at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the home of the Royal Ballet. Tierney joined us for the project shoot, straight from the touring company's successful performances in Australia.

Tierney as Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, in Giselle - (photo: Tristam Kenton)

Tierney proved to be a wonderful subject to work with, happy to be directed by the students and keen to suggest poses of her own. During the hour long session, three different backdrops and a variety of lighting scenarios were used to produce a diverse array of finished work.

THE SHOOT: The Manchester College, Northenden

The college photography studio

Student reflection: Katie O'Neill

"Working with Tierney was an amazing opportunity to experiment in the studio environment. Pre-shoot I collected ideas and took inspiration by researching existing ballet/dance photography. My knowledge from Year 1 at college allowed me to control the shutter speed and use the studio environment to create blur and capture movement. Tierney was very friendly and helpful and we all worked together to get the images we wanted. This new experience allowed me to gain valuable skills, working under pressure, capturing motion and interacting with new people." 

Nathan and Katie at work in the studio

"I couldn't have worked with a better team. MJ, Katie and Nathan were very friendly, welcoming and warm. They made me feel very comfortable right from the moment I walked in to the college. The students really seemed to be able to interpret the movement and balletic poses, involved in classical ballet. It would be lovely to work with them again - it was great fun!" :) - Tierney Heap

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