There is something captivating about ballerinas. The effortless way they mold themselves into impossible positions. The elegant lines they make with their bodies. The quiet strength and power they demonstrate. The “Ballerina Project” has been one of the leaders in sharing photos of the beautiful creatures. Recently, it was announced that the project, created over the span of eighteen years, was coming to an end, but its legacy will surely live on.
In 1994, photographer Dane Shitagi took a photo of a ballerina in a long tutu posing in front of a waterfall. This photograph was the start of his capturing more than 3,000 unique ballet images of dancers, many from the world’s leading companies, outside of the studio. The Hawaiian-born and New York City-based artist often used NYC as a backdrop but expanded his reach over the life of the project.
Shitagi’s images are more than dance photography and art. Their mission is to capture the ballerinas’ hearts and emotions – often lost in fully staged studio prints. The result is thousands of dancers being immortalized in unexpected settings, against backdrops of city streets, beaches, gardens, and grand buildings.
In February 2019, Dane Shitagi announced that he had taken his last photos for the project in 2018. These photos will continue to be posted to the project’s official social accounts throughout March, but “without a balanced creative and fiscal pathway to the future,” the artist found it challenging to continue. The project’s legacy will live on through the new Ballerina Project book which will be available for sale in the fall of 2019.
To see some of Dane Shitagi’s stunning photos of ballerinas, check out “Ballerina Project” on Instagram.