Support Ballet’s New Media: The Ballerina Project on Kickstarter

Posted by on 03.28.2013

If you are one of the 412,000 people who like the Ballerina Project’s Facebook page, you are regularly treated to beautiful and unique images of ballerinas with some of the world’s most beautiful backdrops as their stage. This truly is one of my favorite Facebook pages for ballet: I highly recommend it.

Recently I noticed The Ballerina Project‘s photographer, Dane Shitagi, posting about the project’s new Kickstarter campaign, so I clicked over to check it out (see video below). The Ballerina Project is looking to expand into new media by drawing inspiration from their still images to create short dance films and documentaries. In this short interview, I talk with Mr. Shitagi about his plans for creating a new direction for The Ballerina Project, reaching out to new audiences, and spreading the beauty of ballet.

 

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RK: Can you tell us a little bit about how the Ballerina Project got started and how it has evolved over it’s 13 year existence.

DS: The Ballerina Project originally started in the 1994 with this image in Hawaii.

Claire - Manoa Falls

Claire – Manoa Falls

At that time I was hiking and photographing waterfalls. After watching some ballet on PBS I came up with the idea of incorporating a ballerina amongst a waterfall. (No photoshop was used to create this image. I actually built a platform that I submerged into the pool of the waterfall.) In 1996 I moved to NYC and in 2000 I decided to continue the idea with my new home in New York.

It is difficult to sum up the 13 years of the Ballerina Project. So many ups and downs over the years to even begin with. I need to write a novel to even begin to scratch the surface.

RK: What do you perceive to be the Ballerina Project’s biggest success to date?

DS: The biggest success of the Ballerina Project is lasting for 13+ years. Projects like this are not meant to survive this long. I can also say that I’m proud that the project has reached so many people throughout the world. I always hear stories from the dancers that I photographed, that a good number of the people they meet within the world of ballet and even sometimes people outside the world of ballet know who they are from our images.

RK:  How did you come up with the idea to join Kickstarter and raise money to create new dance films and documentaries?

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Photo by Dane Shitagi

DS: Kickstarter is a new wonderful platform for artist and entrepreneurs from many different fields to raise grassroots venture capital. We believed Kickstarter was the best solution to keep the project going and ultimately become a sustainable entity. The Ballerina Project has been very fortunate to have lasted this long. I have on several occasions come close to ending the project for financial reasons, but I was lucky enough to receive timely well paid commercial photography assignments that allowed me to keep the project going. Without companies such as Fujifilm and Longchamp, the Ballerina Project would not be so blessed. After 13 years, I can no longer afford to keep the project going out of my own pocket so I decided to let our followers decide whether the project grows or fades away. Kickstarter was the best solution for this direction.

RK: When your Kickstarter campaign ends, what will be your first step towards your goal of adding new content?

DS: We hope the Kickstarter will be successful and we can begin production on our new direction. I have already selected one ballerina that we will hopefully be working with on this new plan. We will first finalize our music selection for this piece that she will create and begin by putting together story boards and concepts for this short dance film. We hope to begin rehearsing and eventually start filming this summer while she is on a break from her company.

RK: What do you hope to accomplish by bringing new media to the Ballerina Project?

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Photo by Dane Shitagi

DS: Unlike other forms of art, such as music, ballet has not evolved much when it come to reaching out to its patrons. Music on the other hand, has gone from being performed live to being recorded, first on records, then on cassette tapes, then presented in music videos, then on CDs, then MP3s, and now streaming over the web. Ballet is still mostly performed on stage and in a theater. We are anticipating that with the combination of our photography, short dance films, and documentaries, ballet will become much more accessible to the public and ultimately expose it to a larger audience. We hope to grow the interest in ballet dramatically and in turn help keep the project around.

RK: For a documentary, if you could work with any 2 dancers in the world, who would you choose?

DS: I would pick the two ballerinas that I have already worked with on the Ballerina Project. (I won’t say who, it would be like asking a parent who was their favorite child.) I have been fortunate enough to have the privilege to work with talented and beautiful ballerinas that have sacrificed a lot of their time and passion for this project. I would love to have the opportunity to do a documentary on them and not a principal ballerina that I have never met.

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Here on TENDUS, spreading the word about ballet and reaching out to new audiences is our goal, and we wish to support others who embrace a similar mission.  Together we can introduce more people to ballet and share our passion with the world.  Join Dane and the Ballerina Project on their journey now!

To help The Ballerina Project reach it’s fundraising goal, please click over to Kickstarter to easily donate.  It only takes a few minutes!

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3 Comments

  1. Excellent

  2. Beautiful, exccelent!!

  3. what a lovely concept. I have always loved the ballet, and was lucky enough as a child to have the finances to attend many. However i found as an adult the funds simply havent been available to indulge this love. I would so welcome these documentaries, or any films involving the art. I am so happy a friend of mine shared this site with me.

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