Before Rineke Dijkstra became a celebrated artist, she was a frustrated corporate portrait photographer. Shot after shot, her subjects were cloaked behind a professional veneer. It wasn’t till a 1991 self-portrait, taken right after she swam a draining 30 laps, that she had her artist ah-ha moment. Dijkstra captured an unfiltered emotional immediacy— and has been photographing that ever since, in portraits of adolescent beach goers, bullfighters, post-labor mothers…

Her latest show, at Marian Goodman in Paris, tackles the video portrait and young dancers in St. Petersburg, Russia. Whether the child ballerina in Marianna (The Fairy Doll), above, or the gymnasts in The Gymschool, the works are fascinating in the way her subjects do and don’t let the viewer in, shifting from dancerly perfection to unmasked misstep and back. As Dijkstra notes of the former, “Is she the real Marianna while dancing so perfectly, becoming at one with her dream, or when cracks begin to appear in that perfection?”

Still from Marianna (The Fairy Doll), 2014, copyright Rineke Dijkstra, courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery

More to explore in Style