For instance, at Johannesburg altitudes, and probably occasionally elsewhere on world tours, an oxygen tank is on standby to alleviate the extremes of breathing.

And of course, from a technical point of view, the camera technology available in silent mode as well as available light ASA were critical factors in not distracting the routines of Irina, the lead dancer, and the ensemble and staff.

Irina Kolesnikova was born in 1980 in St. Petersburg. She studied at the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg from 1990 to 1998. Her principal ballet teachers were Elvira Kokorina, Svetlana Efremova and Lubov Kunakova. In December 1998 Irina became a soloist for the Konstantin Tachkin St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre.

She was promoted to principal in 2000 and since 2001 she is the company's Prima Ballerina. She dances all the leading roles including Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, Clara in The Nutcracker, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle and Myrta in Giselle, Kitri in Don Quixote and Nikiya in La Bayadere.

She has toured all over the world including Holland, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Irina at the Peak

This image isn’t possible within the framework of a straight photograph. Catching her moment with the swirling motion of the other dancers was the result of additional frames, and a blending and revealing of the best choices.

Irina, Swan Lake and the St. Petersburg Ballet

David photographed at the South African appearance of the St. Petersburg Ballet on tour,

and produced insights into some of the unseen stresses surrounding the pinnacle of the performances.