Johan Persson – Photographer
stories & testimonials
Birthplace: Kristianstad, Sweden
Principal training: Royal Swedish Ballet School, Canada’s National Ballet School
Danced with: The National Ballet of Canada, The Royal Ballet
Retrained in: Photography and business
Currently: Photographer, Persson Photography
Like many others, my introduction to dance was on the coat-tails of a more enthusiastic older sibling, in my case my sister Cecilia. Although Cecilia went on to become a painter, our audition for Canada’s National Ballet School was to prove a turning point in my life. What followed was eight very happy years growing up in Toronto, receiving an exemplary dance and academic education and fostering life-long friendships.
My career in dance with both The National Ballet of Canada and The Royal Ballet was busy and fulfilling and I had the pleasure of working with many generous, talented and inspirational artists. My transition started quite unexpectedly in the summer of 2002 when surgery for a seemingly minor knee injury uncovered major cartilage deterioration. Although I returned to the stage briefly, it quickly became apparent that further intervention was necessary. After much investigation I finally came to the conclusion that major reconstructive surgery was my best chance for regaining a normally functioning knee – but, it would most certainly spell the end of my dance career.
Having suffered from few injuries during my dance career, having it end due to an injury was a shock. As I recovered from the surgeries that followed I also began the work of imagining life beyond dance and developing plans for the future. Having had a passion for photography since my teenage years I naturally turned to this other artistic love, using it as an outlet to work through my changing professional identity. During this time I also took a business course for photographers, generously funded by the DTRC. This period culminated in the publishing of my first book, The Royal Ballet: 161 Images, which launched my career as a photographer.
There are a number of skills learnt in the studio which have stood me in good stead as a photographer, including an eye for line, shape and movement, and persistence, discipline and professionalism. Perhaps most important, however, are those qualities one sees demonstrated by exceptional artists and to which one aspires to in ones own work – such as authenticity, humility, commitment and generosity.
I feel very fortunate to have been involved in the dance world and to have had the support to transition to a second, equally rewarding career. Thank you to Joysanne and the DTRC.