I love when I happen to be on-line when Thierry Pepin posts a video on his Instagram. Usually he keeps them up just long enough for fans to enjoy, but not too long as to have them taken down by the site.
Last week, when putting together my 'rat' themed day of posts, I was looking for the perfect image for pic of the day. Before choosing the shot of Evan Peters, I spent some time googling 'actors and rats', 'hot men and rats' and 'male models and rats.' Some of the results were a little disturbing, and I shouldn't have been surprised... I guess I sort of thought, given the many male models photographed with snaked and puppies, there may have been a photographer who shot a hot shirtless guy with a rat on his shoulders.
The hot shot that did keep coming up was the image at top of actor Billy Unger (William Brent) shirtless with his undies waist band showing above his grey sweats. The image is hot, and Unger's chest and and stomach did inspire a bit more googling. I wondered at first why the image kept coming up, and soon learned that I knew Unger mostly from his role as the younger brother in You Again, he is best known for his role in Lab Rats, the Disney show Unger starred in for close to four years. I had not heard of the show, or of Unger, but he is certainly on my radar now!
I loved me some Casey Deidrick as Chad on Days, but actor Billy Flynn's talent, hotness (and his politics) won me over pretty quickly. Although I haven't watched in awhile, I had to find and cap last years Dead On Arrival when I read Billy had a brief butt baring scene.
'Some photographers just want big muscly guys and that’s not what you are going to get from a dancer. We are usually leaner and more stylized. But there’s always a place for everyone. You just have to know where you fit in.'
Whenever I feature a dancer who models, I am always struck by their elegance and grace with pose, and the depth of connection between mind and body. I have struggled at times to find just the right word to embody this but dancer Alberto Blanco did so perfectly with his use of the word stylized. Alberto's work is so exquisitely detailed, seen both his professional photo shoots, as well as his incredible self shots. When choosing images for this piece, I kept going back to his self shots and was amazed at the beauty and moments of movement he was able to capture.
'I’ve always been interested in modeling somehow. As dancers we are constantly doing photo shoots for company marketing and videos here and there. But besides dance related stuff I had never done any other modeling related shoots. I have met amazing artists and photographers that have inspired me in so many different ways I didn’t even imagine possible.'
Next five self shots by Alberto
Although a natural in front of the camera, ballet is Alberto's first passion. Born in Spain, Alberto began ballet training at 16 before moving to Madrid after being accepted at Victor Ullate Ballet School. After a move to the US, Alberto continued his ballet training with the Boston Ballet School, where he had the opportunity to dance alongside the company as a trainee in productions like George Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream and The Nutcracker.
'Some of my self shots are planned, and others it’s just me practicing in front of the camera or just trying to achieve a shot I would have want from certain photographer and it didn’t happen. As much as I love to be directed I love to be in control and I enjoy being behind the camera.'
In 2010, Alberto joined the Orlando Ballet II and two years later was promoted to the ballet's main company, appearing in productions of Artistic Director's Robert Hill's Vampire's Ball, Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Carmina Burana, Hansel and Gretel and Bolero among others. Two years ago Alberto became an American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum certified teacher.
Any strange offers or requests? 'I’ve had some weird requests as I’m sure a lot of male models, but when it’s too weird and I don’t want to offend I just don’t answer.'
Is there a photographer you would really love to be shot by? 'I have always wanted to shoot with Gerardo Vizmanos and David Vance.'
What are your boundaries when it comes to showing skin?
'I usually have no boundaries, but I do try to avoid full frontals. Whatever I shoot has to have some artistry to me, I love nudity but it has to be tasteful. The moment it gets slightly pornographic I’m just not interested. Because of my dance career and me being somehow an image to my company I can’t afford to have certain types of images flying around. Every photographer I’ve shot with has always understood my demands, and even though there’s been some more revealing nudes, they’ve never published anything without my permission. So I’m thankful for that.'
You moved to the US from Spain back in 2010, are there differences in how the male form in modeling is viewed between the two countries?
'Definitely! There’s much more freedom and less censorship back in Spain or Europe in general. The US just needs to leave the shame behind. I think it’s a matter of history... we... in Europe have always been influenced by nudity from back in Greek and Roman ancient times, to the Renascence to even religious paintings.'
Despite his incredible body and the beauty he creates with it through movement and pose, it was Alberto's face that first had me wanting to see more of his work. I noticed his avatar on ModelMayhem, and clicked on it to see more of his portfolio. The image from Lee Vandergrift (below) was a striking head shot with a focus on Alberto's beautiful face and bewitching blue eyes. Alberto's blue eyes were a welcoming overture to the rest of the show.
'There was this one time I was shooting with a local photographer with I’ve actually shot several times. His name is Lee Vandergrift. I’ve always admired his stuff and we’ve become very good friends after the years. Well.... this was I think our second shoot. And he wanted to use some of my dancer qualities, so we drove all the way up to the top of a public parking garage. Lee has this project called ‘From Behind’, centered in the male derrière haha! So... he wanted me to do some jumps on top of that garage pretty much naked. I seriously thought we were gonna get arrested, the guard came up and thank god I still had my pants on! In the end we took some quick shots there but we moved on to different locations just in case. It was definitely a good laugh.'
Does your work with the Orlando Ballet lead to much travel?
'Specifically related to the company I haven’t. But being a ballet dancer has made me travel seeking good training in different places in the world. So whenever I travel and have time I always try to contact local photographers and artists.'
Have you worked with dancers comfortable on the stage, but uncomfortable in front of the camera?
'Yes. Some people are very good on a stage but they just don’t know how to act natural in front of a camera. But hey! I was there once. Experience teaches you a lot, so keep going in front of the camera and analyzing what poses and gestures make you look your best.'