Legendary choreographer Martha Graham famously referred to ballet as 'language of the soul'. But for all its poetic beauty, there is a brutal reality; an unyielding physical struggle in search of artistic perfection. 

This duality is the subject matter of photographer Rick Guest's latest series 'What Lies Beneath', due to open at the Hospital Club Gallery later this week (22 January.) 

Created in collaboration with stylist Olivia Pomp, the series of portraits – Guest's second focusing on dancers – strips away the glory of dance to reveal the determination and sacrifice behind the art form. 'I wanted to make a series of portraits of the dancers themselves, as opposed to dancers dancing,' explains Guest. 

Dancers from The Royal Ballet, The English National Ballet, the Richard Alston Dance Company, and Wayne McGregor's Random Dance come under his inquisitive lens, 'I wanted to see how their art has both shaped and etched itself into their bodies.' 

This level of disclosure – dancers stripped down to their worn and battered practise uniforms (the smallest piece of self expression in an otherwise uniform act) – is rare indeed. After all, these are performers who have trained their entire lives to conceal the enormity of the effort at hand. 'I think that this does a great disservice to the dancers. Having a sense of what lies beneath both enhances our experience of the performance and leads to a more profound appreciation of the dancer’s essential being.'

A number of limited edition prints will be on sale during the exhibition, as well as an accompanying book designed by Loose Joints, which also features an essay by art editor Sarah Crompton.